11 May 2016 – CABI has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) to help Pakistan trade citrus and mango fruit with global regions like the European Union. The MoU was signed on 10 May 2016.

Pakistan’s fresh horticultural exports have been limited to niche regional markets, leaving high-end global markets untapped. This is largely because farmers, agricultural labourers and others in the food supply chain lack the knowledge they need to grow and sell fresh produce to international food safety standards. The MoU with PFVA will help CABI connect with different agencies that can help fund skills training for people working in the fresh produce supply chain.

So far, CABI has delivered a ‘training of trainers’ programme as part of an existing project. Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), this project is helping to create an infrastructure for quarantine and help with the use of natural controls – biocontrol – to tackle plant pests in Pakistan. It also aims to improve the ability of plant health regulators working in quarantine management to certify exports of agricultural commodities. This project has given government representatives and private sector agencies the skills they need to train farmers and agricultural labourers in pre- and post-harvest pest management and phytosanitary compliance in fresh produce supply chains. The new MoU aims to open new avenues to develop Pakistan’s horticulture sector by finding funding opportunities to upscale the training programme and reach thousands of beneficiaries.

The MoU is focusing initially on helping citrus and mango farmers gain the skills they need to prevent pre- and post-harvest losses. As the quality of the produce improves, farmers will gain higher profits, helping to also improve the livelihoods of farmers’ communities and the labourer groups. Export-ready produce should help open profitable markets for them around the world.

The signing of the MoU with PFVA is a concrete step toward giving Pakistan’s smallholder farmers a valuable boost. It will help them, and others in the food supply chain, get the skills they need to sell fruit and vegetables to high-value international markets. In the coming years, the initiative will be extended to other fruit and vegetable crops like apples, peaches and chillies.

“We’re delighted to have signed this MoU with PFVA. Our work will concentrate on training labourers and ensuring they are confident in handling fruit and vegetable crops for export. Skills training is a critical component of improving food safety standards. We’re excited about the difference this project can make to the country’s trade.” Dr Babar Bajwa, Regional Director, CABI in Central and West Asia

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