30 August 2013 – The Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) is funding CABI to stimulate local markets in Punjab, Pakistan, by developing and training poor, vulnerable and unskilled people from four districts of South Punjab, namely Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Muzaffargarh and Lodhran. The aim is to enhance their skills and allow them to gain better jobs, self-employment and generate income opportunities. Eventually the trainees will contribute towards food security and the lives of the rural poor by utilising these skills.

Agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy. It engages nearly half of the country’s workforce and accounts for over 20% of GDP. Together with agro-based products, it contributes 80% of the country’s total export earnings. The Punjab province has much of the cropped area of Pakistan and it contributes a major share of the agricultural economy of the country; providing much of its cotton, wheat, rice, sugarcane and maize, and many of its citrus, guava and dates, which is why a project like this is so important and can have real impact.

In the initial phase, CABI will train 500 women from the Muzaffargarh district of the Punjab in kitchen gardening and grain storage management. The University of Arid Agriculture is partnering with CABI on this project, and establishing a system and criteria for certifying trainees according to their training, knowledge and skill levels.

So far CABI has established a support office and five training centres in villages in Muzaffargarh in order to conduct training in both kitchen gardening and stored grain management, therefore reviving agriculture and creating opportunities and generating income in the area. Complete curriculums and manuals have been developed, and regular classes have begun for 125 women, which will continue for three months.

PSDF is engaging a third-party firm to monitor the agreed activities and outputs. This firm records whether contractual obligations are being fulfilled. At the same time, PSDF’s own monitoring team will regularly visit the training sites to assess training delivery.