Shazday Fruits: Bringing respect back into agriculture

“Giglit Baltistan is the world’s sixth largest apricot producer… no Pakistani knows this.”

Pakistan is an agrarian economy with produce as diverse as its geographical landscape. In the country’s north, nestled between some of the tallest mountains of the world, are the valleys of Gilgit Baltistan, with small family-owned orchards producing some 600,000 tonnes of apricots every year.

Despite being blessed with such an abundance of produce, Pakistan has been unable to convert it into any meaningful revenue – both for the farmers, and the national exchequer – resulting in this opportunity going to waste, along with the fruit.

Shazday Fruits, founded by Ovais Zuberi, Suleman Anwar, and Asif Mehdi, has set out to change that.

“There are people who cannot afford a proper meal twice a day but have 50-60 apricot trees on their land… they just don’t know how to capitalize on this,” says Asif, who is himself a resident of Skardu.

The key to Shazday’s business model is empowering farmers and farming families, by training them in agricultural best practices, providing them with access to markets, and ensuring an equitable distribution of revenue.

Also integral to their vision is embracing diversity across the entire value chain, with a great focus on conserving the environment and providing equal opportunities for women. In fact, Shazday’s factory is managed by local women, who also comprise 50% of the workforce.

Currently, Shazday’s product portfolio includes a variety of organic products such as cherries, apricots, fruit preserves, dried fruits, nuts, and specialty grains – all with a strong emphasis on provenance. 

“We need to show not only Pakistanis, but the entire world that we are in a place that probably cannot be duplicated. You’ve got five of the tallest mountains in the world. The stuff that grows there, apricots for instance, probably originated in that region.” 

Based on their success in Skardu, the company is setting its eyes on a rapid expansion in the near future, with a larger goal being an IPO a few years down the line.

Watch our full conversation with Shazday Fruits to find out more about the work they’re doing, the importance of sustainability for their business, and what keeps the team going. 

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