Uzbekistan: the challenges of the next table grape giant


Uzbekistan is the world’s fifth largest producer of table grapes and almost all of its production is consumed in Russia and Kazakhstan. Its future will depend, to a large extent, on access to new genetic material and on improving pre- and post-harvest management.

It can be red, green or black. It can have seeds or absence of them. The same variety may have two or three names, although in the end everyone calls it Kish Mish, the ‘queen’ of table grape varieties in Uzbekistan, the fifth global producer of table grapes, with productions that reach almost 1, 6 million tons. The importance of its productions is such that 95% of the fruit is sent to neighboring countries such as Russia and Kazakhstan, nearby markets that depend on this fruit to satisfy the needs of a large part of consumers.

And it is that, although Russia began a process of reconversion in its fields a decade ago, installing apple orchards, olives, vineyards and vegetables, the climate continues to be the least suitable for table grapes, which must be imported from Uzbekistan and Armenia, although ‘western’ fruit also arrives in the country, but not from Europe or Turkey, which today has diverted its productions to Poland, a market where it competes with fruit of European origin (Spain and Italy) and even with Peruvian grapes .

The clusters can weigh between 2 and 3 kg each.

“Although it is a fruit that does not have the quality of what could come from other origins, it does come in large quantities and has been left with a market that was previously dominated by Turkey,” explains Óscar Salgado, advisor, specialist in grapes from table, on a market that depends 100% on the import of table grapes. “The truth is that technology is not an asset that we can say is exclusive. So pay attention to what may happen with Uzbekistan and Armenia”, points out Ricardo Maldonado, commercial director of Infruta.

Although the statistics are not entirely accurate, it is estimated that there are between 75,000 and 90,000 hectares of table grapes in Uzbekistan, the vast majority of which are Kish Mish, which, with basic handling, produce bunches that can weigh between 2 and 3 kg. However, the most important thing for this grape, which is mostly sold as ‘organic’ fruit, are the few phytosanitary problems. “Kish Mish has genes that are tolerant or resistant to downy mildew and powdery mildew. On the ground we did not see bunches that did not have signs of any disease, nor did the vines. And there are several geneticists who have found out in the field what these varieties are about”, emphasizes Salgado.