Afghans do brisk business at Indian trade fair

    By Aparajita Gupta, IANS,

    New Delhi : Life has never been easy for people from the rugged, landlocked, conflict-ridden Afghanistan, but that has not marred the spirit of people to do business in India. Even women are quite courageous to travel over 1,000 km to come here for business.

    “I had been coming to the trade fair for the last four years. We do good business. I come with traditional Afghani dresses called ‘Gand Afghani’,” an excited Farishta of Safari Baghlan Handicrafts told IANS here at the Afghanistan pavilion at the India International Trade Fair 2013.

    She cannot speak Hindi or English. No barriers seemed to be strong enough to stop her from doing business. She was busy explaining to customers (with the help of an interpreter) the bright coloured traditional Afghani kurtas and matching jewelleries of yesteryears.

    There are around 18 stalls in the pavilion named ‘Afghanistan – The land of rising opportunity’.

    “We had been participating in IITF since 2004 and got a gold medal for good decoration in 2009. We are looking forward to getting counter partners in India for our businesses,” Farhad Jalily, exhibition manager of the Afghanistan pavilion, told IANS.

    Women could be seen crowding a stall selling stone ornaments of turquoise and lapis lazuli where the price starts from Rs.100 and goes up to Rs.3,000.

    Being in the Afghanistan pavilion, how can one miss out on the dry fruits? People were testing and buying them in hordes. “We had been coming here for the last five-six years. We have local partners to do business. We come with apricots, figs, walnuts, pine nuts and many more stuff,” Masood said.

    Samim along with his mother were seen busy selling woollen garments and dry fruits. They are from the Balkh region.

    “We do export our products – both dry fruits and woolen garments – to India. We get very good response from people over here,” he said. The organisation is named Balkh Women Association.

    Carpets from Afghanistan are appreciated worldwide. Hence people are seen haggling in a carpet stall over price. Abdul Rashad, the stall owner, has showcased intricately designed woollen carpets of Mazar and Kalim varieties. He said apart from individual customers he also gets institutional customers. The carpet prices vary between Rs.5,000 and Rs.500,000.

    Rashad had been coming to the fair for many years, but he rued the fact that travelling is becoming expensive now. “Customs duty has gone up. That hurts our business,” he said.

    (Aparajita Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])