Development of rural milk producers

USAID’s Entrepreneurs Project signs MoU with 2 cos


ISLAMABAD: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Entrepreneurs Project signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with Shakarganj Food Private Limited and Hashoo Foundation with the aim to further promote economic development of rural milk producers in the dairy sub-sector.

The Entrepreneurs Project, which is implemented by the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) is training over 70,000 rural entrepreneurs, mainly women, in dairy, embellished fabric, honey, and medicinal and aromatic plants helping to link them to profitable markets nationwide.

“Our endeavour is meant to strengthen development-driven private partnerships by facilitating dairy micro-entrepreneurs to scale up their businesses, enhance quality and increase production and income through training, capacity building and market linkages,” stated Acting Chief of Party for the Project Suzi Slomback. The provision of market information, technical skills development, and market linkages by the USAID’s Entrepreneurs Project will help programme beneficiaries to produce quality milk, increase production, and sell at competitive market prices.

Hashoo Foundation and Shakarganj Food Products Limited have agreed to jointly collaborate and coordinate in identifying strategic locations within Entrepreneurs’ target areas of Bahawalpur to install 20 milk chillers. The cooperative agreement between the partners will support the expansion of activities as part of an integrated approach to improve the quality and quantity of the dairy milk produced by the project beneficiaries.

The project helps these micro-entrepreneurs develop better products, learn new skills, and get connected to better markets through development of lead women entrepreneurs who serve as channel to the markets and service providers.

The speakers said that micro and small enterprises are more critical than ever to Pakistan’s economy. Informal businesses are estimated to contribute half of Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) and such micro and small businesses face challenges of low levels of capital, production techniques and skills; poor access to organised markets and technology, low and unstable incomes, and unpredictable working conditions.

However, they said recent ventures in Pakistan have demonstrated that with adequate support, micro businesses can be successful. These enterprises can lead to increased earnings for tens of thousands at the household level. Further more, small and medium-sized businesses constitute 90 percent of Pakistani firms, employ 78 percent of the non-agricultural workforce and contribute over 3.0 percent of the GDP.

Women in Pakistan, particularly those living in rural communities, face significant barriers to participating in economic activates beyond their homes. Cultural limits on the mobility of women create significant barriers to accessing basic education, health care, and even participating in the common economic activity of local market places. To address these challenges, USAID/Pakistan initiated the Entrepreneurs Project in June 2009. In March 2011, the mission modified the project’s goal in response to a shift in US government strategy owing to changing conditions in Pakistan. The displacement of over a million people in the Swat Valley, due to conflict and devastating floods of 2010 was one reason for this change. The initial project goal of increasing the incomes of 120,000 micro-entrepreneurs was reduced to 75,000.

To achieve the goal by June 2014, the project focuses on developing value chains in four sectors—dairy, hand made fabric, medicinal and aromatic plants and honey. The rural supply base of these value chains is fragmented with largely untrained and ill-equipped small-scale producers who generate small quantities of poor quality product. They said that the value chain approach is based on the principle that when the micro-entrepreneurs are trained and establish links with other actors in the value chain, their bargaining power and incentive to produce better quality and quantity is substantially increased. Daily Times

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