Aksy Sun Planet Organic
Dried Organic Plums from Central Asia

Beginning of the work in 2020

A short story of the product
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A dreamlike and largely untouched cultivation area
Plums are produced in Kyrgyzstan - one of the poorest and at the same time the "most democratic" state in Central Asia. The production area is located at the foothills of snow-covered mountains. The neighbouring Pamir is the one of the world highest mountain ranges, reaching up to more than 7.000 m. Plum grow mainly in kitchen gardens in remote and environmentally almost untouched mountain valleys at an altitude of about 1600 m.
The production in somewhat larger plantations of view has only just begun.

While Walnuts and wild apples are autochthonous in the region and grow in forests, plums "migrated" together with settlers from Ukraine about 150 years ago. Those settlers had been former serfs that migrated to Central Asia with the hope of a better life. From their home they took dried plums as a staple food and together with those plums these traditional plum varieties made their way to the Alatoo Mountains.

The first successful marketing experience
The first successful marketing experience motivated farmers to get organized and to improve the traditional production practice of plums meets the basic organic requirements since the day plums arrived. Neither mineral fertilizer nor pesticides had ever been used by local farmers for cropping.
The potential of the unique ecological plum production system was discovered already in 2012. At this time, Bio-Service, a local NGO promoting organic production, supported local plum producers to start an internal control system and work toward the certification according to EU organic standards.
3 more years had to pass until a link between a dedicated buyer, EgeSun, was established who was willing to give it a chance. The match happened during a trade fair in Germany. The "Import Promotion Desk" – governmental German programme linking producers in disadvantaged countries and German buyers - invited Kyrgyz producers to a trade fair. At that fair Kees Maris, the person of EgeSun in charge of product development, was excited right from the beginning about their taste. With the support of the GIZ Programme "Sustainable Economic Development in Kyrgyzstan", financed by the Swiss Development Cooperation and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation of Germany, a concept to upgrade the plum value chain was developed.

Sustainable production - good water efficiency in relation to other crops

Plums are produced at relatively high altitudes of over 1500 m above sea level. The sun shines intensely, which leads to the very aromatic taste. The altitude ensures moderate temperatures and the need for irrigation water is about 2/3 lower than for the production of vegetables or cotton in the lowlands.

Focus on food safety

Farmers and producers are trained in the right (hygienic) harvest - compliance with standards is not only important at the producer level. Great importance is also attached to quality during processing. The processing company obtained FSSC 22000 certification in 2017. This is one of the outcomes of the cooperation with GIZ.

With support of GIZ further investments are currently being made to upgrade processing facilities.

Child labour - no longer a challenge

Child labour played a major role in cotton production in Kyrgyzstan and has been successfully combated over the last 15 years. In the cultivation of plums, exploiting the cheap labour of children has never been a particular challenge. Nevertheless, the producer groups and SunPlanet ensure that this remains the case.

The use of renewable energy is also a priority when it comes to drying. Electricity generated from water power ensures a low carbon food print during drying. Tests are currently being carried out to learn how the use of heat pumps can further reduce energy consumption. Preliminary data suggests that energy efficiency can be increased by 50%.

Last but not least:

Fair prices ensure a measurable contribution to poverty reduction

Farmers receive fair prices from the buyers of the raw materials. The aim of the value chain partners is to increase the income of the participating women and their families. In 2017 prices paid for organic plums allowed farmers to increase the income from plum production by 50 up to 100%. This makes a measurable difference in the budget of benefitting families.

The Kyrgyz aggregators EgeSun / Sunplanet are committed to establish a long lasting relation with the producer groups and aim to reach FairTrade certification.

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Our team leaders
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Yusupov Nurlan
Director of Bozbu Ata Bio Coop
Pulatov Shahzod
Manager of Internal Control System and Food Quality
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