IFC seeking investors for Uzbekistan cold chain project

Tashkent, Uzbekista:  IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is seeking investors to build and operate six refrigerated warehouses in Uzbekistan.

Appropriate sites have been identified in Fergana, Gallaorol, Samarkand, Bukhara, Kitab, and Oltinsoy with the help of World Food Logistics Organization. Its engineers have prepared schematic designs for each of the sites. Financing is available for qualifying investors. Interested parties can request a prospectus from Joseph Mik and Zafar Khashimov.

Prospective investors have an opportunity to assemble a portfolio of refrigerated warehouses in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan grows between 6.5 and 7m tonnes of fresh produce. This crop is estimated to be worth between $1.8 and $2bn per year. Uzbekistan is an exporter of fruits and vegetables to the world’s largest importer by dollar value, the Russian Federation, providing investors active in wholesale markets with a ready access to hard currency revenues.

Uzbek farmers are also expected to become an important source of rental income for investors. Current availability of refrigerated warehousing in Uzbekistan is estimated to be no more than 60,000 tonnes. Less than 5% of the harvest is stored for future consumption. Of this figure, 80% is warehoused in facilities which lack temperature or humidity control. A lack of cold storage may contribute to post-harvest losses of between 20 to 40%. A shortage of cold storage has far-reaching consequences for Uzbekistan where agriculture accounts for 17.5% of GDP and 25% of employment.

Increasing cold storage capacity is a high priority for the government. Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No 105 dated 7 April 2011, calls for additional capacity of 120,800 tonnes to be built at a cost of $130m from 2011 to 2015. The Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, Investment and Trade (MFERIT), operating through two subsidiaries – Uzmarkazimpex and Uzprommashimpeks – has retained IFC to identify investors capable of building and operating refrigerating at six sites.