Expo Milan 2015 - Pavilion of Afghanistan

Expo Milan 2015 - Pavilion of Afghanistan

The Afghanistan is participating to Milan Expo through the Spice Cluster but its space will present much more and will tell about recent achievements of this country in different areas. To learn more, we have interviewed the Commissioner General of Afghanistan, Ms Najlla Habibyar.

1. The theme of the Afghan pavilion is "Eating for longevity, Afghanistan amazingly real." Could you explain it in a few words?

I am pleased to explain the rational behind this theme, we have chosen. "Afghanistan: amazing Real" is an institutional motto that describes what we believe is the essence of our country and of our products. We consider that the following adjectives describe these in the best way: valuable, unique, authentic, genuine, natural and long-standing. "Eating for Longevity" connects the Expo's motto "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" with ours, compelling the ideas of "genuine, natural and long-standing". "Longevity" is the likely outcome for genuine and natural food.

2. Why has Afghanistan chosen to participate to the Spices cluster? In what way are spices central in Afghan cuisine and how will they allow you to tackle the subject of nutrition inside the pavilion?

Given the variety of food products we harvest, Afghanistan could have chosen to be present in any cluster. Yet, spices in general and saffron -the red gold- in particular are emblematic for our country and known worldwide.

3. The pavilion of Afghanistan will present recent achievements made in hospitality, food and the role of women in society. Could you tell us about the main issues that will be showcased?

In the past 10 years, Afghanistan has moved from being a country where all food products – fresh fruits; dry fruits; spices- were sold in the local market to being a country where food products are exportable and exported to many countries, (such as India, Pakistan, UAE and Kazakhstan). In order to do so, products had to go through a process of upgrading in terms of standards and quality. For instance, saffron moved from being a minor crop in some isolated lands, to be awarded the best saffron in the world by an international organization.

We will display how we implemented this process. In regards of women and despites much more progress that needs to be made, we will display how relevant the role of women has been in making our food products competitive and how they are taking new, higher tasks in the process.

4. Could you tell us about the design of the pavilion, and the activities that will be organized for visitors?

We will try to provide a mix that not only promotes Afghan culture and products but also is interesting for every visitor. Shows, exhibitions and music will be part of our concept. We plan to dedicate a week on a specific item, such as marble and marble artwork for example or on a specific region of Afghanistan, presenting its products and cultural features.

5. Agriculture provides a livelihood for about 70% of the Afghan population, what do you expect from Expo Milan 2015 in terms of sharing of best practices in the field of nutrition?

In a world where genetic modification, sugar and additives, and over-processed foods are becoming more and more prevalent, we want to compel the argument that, still, there is nothing healthier and tastier than natural food and tradition cooking.

6. What image of Afghanistan do you hope to leave in the minds of the visitors?

As mentioned about our motto "Afghanistan: amazingly real", we want our country to be perceived in a positive manner; as a country with personality, but a positive one, a country that is unique, authentic, genuine, natural and valuable (as our food products are). We want to present a friendly and welcoming country to everyone who would visit our exhibition.