The food-processing sector in Tajikistan has 21 sub-sectors, including canned vegetables, canned fruits, fresh and dry fruits, meat and dairy processing, feed and confectionary production, organic (animal) oil, vegetable oil, pasta, liquor, wine, beer, non-alcoholic drinks, salt, and tobacco production. There are over 600 companies in the sector. Once wholly government-owned, the industry is now largely private, and has a strong demand for capital equipment. Most enterprises are small seasonal operators, selling to local markets.
Following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, the output of the food processing sector sharply declined, reaching an all-time low in 1999 as a result of the breakup of the centralized planning and sales system and the lack of financing to run operations, coupled with political and economic instability.
Tajikistan was a major producer of fruits and vegetables in the former Soviet Union, with annual exports outside of the republic reaching 200,000 tons (100,000 tons of fruit, 60,000 tons of vegetables, and 30,000-40,000 tons of canned food) prior to 1990. Although more acreage is now in food production than during the Soviet era, lower agricultural yields have prevented overall production from increasing. In 2007, Tajikistan’s food processing industry exported 23,414 tons of fruit, 103,067 tons of vegetables, 57,825 tons of dried fruit, and 14,652 tons of canned food.
Between 1991 and 2011, major investments were made in only two projects: (1) the $12.6 million water bottling plant Obi Zulol and (2) a $3.97 million fruit and vegetable juice packaging line in Khujand. There are other small packaging facilities in the country, mainly using Chinese equipment. In general, however, most processing and packaging equipment in the country is very outdated, with some technologies dating back to the 1930s.