Another outing, fundamental to our trip to Mazar-e Sharif, took place on Friday morning (9/28) at Abdul Qadir Qandel’s warehouse at Buzkashi Circle. Most of the traders who traveled to Dubai came to this meeting; bringing many large rugs for us to see. We discussed orders placed, timing and shipping details individually and as a group. There was a good sense of satisfaction among the northern traders and many stated that the Afghanistan/ USA Carpet Conference was one the most helpful efforts that the US had ever arranged to actually help them get orders.
At one point, we were able to begin a discussion on building a cost model for Chob Rang type rugs made in Aqchah with a group from that city. Usually rather protective of their cost structure, but being in a generally good mood and in a larger group, they walked through the different stages of Sheep to Shop. At each point along the carpet supply chain we talked about their sources, their frustrations and their opportunities. They argued in Dari, often loudly, to finalize a price range for us to write down on the tally. The results surprised Alex and me. We found that the incremental cost of the actual weaving is a far larger percent of the total cost of a rug than we had thought. It seems that weavers of Afghanistan definitely have control of the carpet supply chain.
This, then, begins the quest for our next steps in Afghanistan; to dig deeper into dynamics of the trade and help the Afghan carpet makers negotiate there future.