“My forefathers were associated with agriculture but I left this profession for the last 25 years due to low income and reducing trend of production. During enterprise development and technical trainingsI realized that this activity would be very beneficial as compared to growing cereal crops. I am very thankful to The USAID’s Agribusiness Projectfor putting me on the route of entrepreneurship“
- Ch. Muhammad Latif,
village Bunni Behak
From its very birth to this day, agriculture remains an essential constituent of the Pakistaniagrarian economy.Sixty percent (60%) of the rural population of Pakistan depends upon agriculture as a source of their daily bread and butter.Despite this, the agriculture sector is still filled with untapped potential, which is hampered by inefficient market and production systems and lack of awareness and ineffective coordination with various players. The major issue, though, still remains the financial support. In order to tackle some of the key constraints,USAID Pakistan, under its Economic Growth initiative launched a five year “The Agribusiness Project” in November 2011. This project has introduced a demand driven approach, which works to integrate critical agribusinesses into various domestic and global markets, adding value wherever the potential gap exists.
The Project is forming Farmer Enterprise Groups (FEGs) not only to facilitate collective action and joint access to services and resourcesbut also to overcome the financial and technical constraints they face. These FEGs are formed after a prior assessment of market which analytically deduces the specific interventions thatfocus on delivery of quality products to markets as per demand. One of these interventions is tunnel farming, being an agricultural technology which inculcates the building of plastic roofedwalk-in tunnels that captures off-season for growing qualityvegetables resulting in enhanced employment and increased income.
Assessing the market need of fresh vegetables in Islamabad,an FEG was formed comprising members from village Chatta Bakhtawar, Chapper and Bunni Behak in ICT of Pothwar &AJK Region. The project facilitated eleven farmers by providingtrainings on enterprise development, use of commercial scale tunnel technology, and support in establishment of tunnel infrastructure, provision of improved seeds and information on various market avenues for sale of their produce.
The feedback received from farmers is encouraging. By providing support of PKR 3,277,630/- apart from community share of PKR 524,500/- this intervention has generated a total of eleven (11) employments in these villages. This single FEG would have a turnover of PKR 2,885,233/- per crop per production, which is around 50% more than what they had before the projects support.
This was one of the interventions carried out in first year of the project. The project has managed to generate new employment, empower small scale farmers with increased income, provided them various market avenues and has holistically to a large extent, increased the incomes of selected small farmers in Chatta Bakhtawar, Chapper and Bunni Behak villages.