ISLAMABAD: The All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association (PFVA) will assist the International Trade Centre (ICT), a joint technical assistance agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO), in supporting the small & medium enterprises for the development of the horticulture & livestock sectors in Sindh and Balochistan.
PFVA Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed and former chairman Aslam Pakhali recently met a delegation of the ICT, led by Chief of Section & Enterprise Competitive Section Robert Skidmore.
The ICT delegation apprised Waheed Ahmed of its six-year Growth for Rural Advancement & Sustainable Progress (GRASP) project, under which financial assistance will be extended to small farmers of agribusiness and livestock sectors in Sindh and Balochistan in order to uplift their small scale businesses.
The project is funded by a delegation of the European Union to Pakistan with a budget of 48 million euros. This project will ensure the provision of a congenial business environment to small farmers, besides providing grants and technical assistance to improve value chain, yield, quality, access to market information and improvement in standards.
Waheed Ahmed noted that the growers of Sindh and Balochistan are suffering badly at the hands of global warming, water scarcity of and issues of supply chain, due to which the rate of poverty is relatively higher in these provinces.
“The GRASP project of the ICT is a need of the hour if we are to ensure financial security to small farmers,” he said, adding that it (project) is a true replica of the ‘Pakistan Horticulture Vision -2030’
“According to the vision 2030, if food security is not improved in Pakistan, national security will be in jeopardy. However, if the policies are formulated and implemented in accordance with the vision, agricultural production will substantially be enhanced, leading to an increase in the GDP volume, multiplication in export and poverty alleviation.”
Waheed Ahmed futher said that the vision-2030, which spells out issues of the sector and its solution on a short, medium & long term basis, is a realistic policy framework for horticulture growth. It was developed after extensive consultations with small growers, stakeholders in the supply chain, research & development-based institutions and government officials of all the provinces, he added.
“The current deplorable state of supply chain needs a definite improvement to uplift the local market,” Waheed Ahmed emphasised. “In order to make GRASP project a success in Sindh and Balochistan, it is imperative that a pilot project at the district level is launched first so that after analysing the outcome of the pilot project, its scope could be extended further.”
He urged the international experts working on the project to keep a check on the ground realities, culture, local customs and traditions of Sindh and Balochistan.
“The farmers may have a limited vision on a particular issue but the PFVA, having its root in all the provinces of the country, is not only well versed with the problems of small farmers but also has a thorough knowledge and adequate experience about supply chain and local & international markets. Hence, PFVA will extend assistance, support and cooperation to the ICT in this context,” he maintained.
He further informed the ICT delegation about the achievements of the association in research & development, improvement in yield, reduction in the cost of production, steps taken to enhance the shelf life of fruits and vegetables, and technology utilisation.
The ICT delegation acknowledged the vital role played by PFVA in the horticulture development of Pakistan. The delegation members expressed their desire to work in close collaboration with the association, saying that they were deeply impressed by the patron-in-chief for his vision, familiarity with issues of the farmers, awareness in the horticulture field and his deep understanding with demand of local & international market.
The delegation members said they will continue to hold meetings with the PFVA in future so as to make the project a real success.