On business visits in Afghanistan
On a trip to Afghanistan this year, Tahmina Salik has visited one of the companies Warfair is dealing with; Namely Ziba Foods. She is an advisory board member of Warfair and has followed the company's collaboration with producers in conflict -affected countries and was excited about how it worked after Taliban's takeover of power. Read her report below. It became first brought in GlobalNyt.
I wondered that no women were present at all when I arrived. I have previously spoken to some of the employees of women online, where they expressed great joy in being able to serve their families, but also great concern about what their future job situation would be. Most of the employees were the only parents of their families.
Fortunately, it turned out that I had just arrived in the middle of the lunch break. Ziba Foods strives to hire women and work directly with farmers. Over 95 percent of employees were women and they still are.
The meeting with the women in Ziba Foods
The employees, dressed in navy blue uniforms and white hats, finished their lunch break when I was about to drink my tea. When I reached out to greet them, I did not feel a hint of the anonymity that comes with meeting new people - it felt as if they knew me and I, and our conversations looked like a reunion. I understood how valuable their job was to them and they could feel my relief when I saw them work.
I made them company when they returned to their workstations, talking to them about the day the Taliban took over. I was aware that it must have been a traumatizing day for them, but when I talked to them it became even more real. They told me how it took them several hours to reach home because of the crazy traffic and desperation on the streets. Then they had been gripped by discouragement over the dark chaos that had engulfed the country and which prevented them from returning to work.
But the downfall and gloom in their eyes, expressions and voices quickly changed to gratitude and enthusiasm as they told me about the phone call from their manager at Ziba Foods, who told them they had been licensed by the Taliban government to continue work.
Ziba Food's employees in the process of weighing and packing the white dried mulberries from Kapisa Province in Afghanistan.
One of the reasons why it could be possible was that there were no men in Ziba Foods. I was further relieved to experience that the company also continued women's free transport to and from their homes despite the country's political and economic chaos.
For me to see, it shows the necessity of continuing trade in conflict -filled areas. Through trade, possible conflicts can be averted, and even when conflicts arise, international trade can help reduce the effects of the conflicts on the individual people.
In Warfair, we do not choose side in political conflicts around the world. But we have sympathy for the people who are affected by these political conflicts. And then we have a love for products of the highest quality produced by hand and by methods that are dying out. Together, these two principles create the philosophy of our work. What a pleasure it was to visit Ziba Foods.
Warfair's trade continues in Afghanistan
Warfair beats two flies with a bang by offering us here in the Western world -class products from conflict countries. And at the same time, offer jobs, growth and hope in countries that companies usually stay away from because of the extra efforts associated with trading with a country in conflict.
Our trade with companies in Afghanistan remains, even after the Taliban took over last August - which is a farm that many other international companies have not been able to maintain. This is also one of the many reasons why I was eager to visit Ziba Foods in Kabul during my visit in February. At Ziba Foods, they work directly with small farms and cooperatives, which is why they have the highest quality agricultural products. Those of you who have tasted the Ghorbandi almonds, the white mulberries, the raisins and many more dried fruits from Warfair are aware of what I am talking about when I refer to their 'best quality'.
Farmer Abdullah from Kapisa, who sells mulberries to Ziba Foods.
The white mulberry tree comes from China, where the leaves of the tree are used as feed for silk larvae. Photo: oriane zerah
Ziba Foods buys and fetches dried fruits from various provinces in Afghanistan, where employees travel across the country to meet directly with farmers and gain insight into their production process and quality, after which Ziba chooses the products the company wants. The product is then checked in microbiological laboratory tests, after which it is stored at -20 ° C for about 72 hours before being treated, packed and sold.
Tahmina Salik is a member of the Advisory Board of Warfair.