So, what's the problem
Pakistan has a thriving agricultural sector, contributing around 24% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and directly or indirectly engaging the majority of the population. Exports from this sector represent the country's largest source of foreign exchange earnings.
One of the main challenges facing Pakistan's agricultural exporters and producers today is meeting the stringent Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) requirements of international trading partners. Conversely, importing agricultural produce increases the inadvertent risk of introducing non-native invasive pests and diseases that could impact domestic agricultural production. An ability to comply with SPS standards is fundamental to sustaining and increasing trade in food and agricultural products, protecting domestic production and, in turn, contributing to improved livelihoods and economic development.
Pakistan has recognized the need to strengthen its plant and animal health safe-guarding systems to address these challenges. As part of the United States' obligation under the SPS Agreement, the USDA is working with Pakistan to increase SPS capacity of in-country regulatory and scientific officials to support national agricultural production and trade objectives.
What is this project doing?
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working with CABI and Texas A & M University (TAMU) to develop and run training courses on the 'Principles for Developing a Model Agriculture Import/Export Systems' for animal and plant health officials and scientists in Pakistan.
An element of distance learning has been incorporated into the training to optimize the reach of this USDA-led initiative. The modules will be made available both via a dedicated website and USB stick for delegates working in areas with limited internet access. To make the courses accessible, they will be translated into Urdu by CABI.
Distance learning will be complemented by on-site workshops at CABI's Rawalpindi office and at regional locations within Pakistan.
The modules comprise audio, video and written content to cater for the learning styles of the target audience. The content is being produced by experienced Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from the USDA's Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service
Overall 13 e-learning modules on plant health will be delivered. So far, four workshops covering modules 1, 2, 3 and 7 have been facilitated by the USDA's Plant Health Advisor in Pakistan and SMEs from USDA-APHIS and CABI at CABI's Rawalpindi campus. Modules 3.5,4,5 and 6 have been delivered by Texas A&M University and CABI has developed Urdu versions of specified modules. The review workshops for trainee participants have been completed for module 3.5, 4 and 5. The review workshops for module 6 will be held during August 2015 in Lahore and Karachi. SMEs workshops for 3.5,4,5,6 have been held at CABI’s Rawalpindi Campus. The next series of modules will be delivered shortly and complemented with SMEs workshops at the CABI campus in Rawalpindi.
The project is expected to significantly improve the capacity of the regulatory officers in Pakistan and positively affect the trade objectives of Pakistan.