Governor Balochistan to support agri-business development initiatives in the province

Quetta (20 March 2023)

Governor Balochistan Malik Abdul Wali Kakar emphasized the importance of the agriculture and livestock sectors in the economic development of Balochistan. He expressed commitment to fully support agri-businesses, particularly by developing and strengthening the value-chain in diverse sectors of the agri economy.

At a ceremony organized by Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress (GRASP), the Governor distributed Matching Grants worth PKR 260 million to uplift the business potential of 117 small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including 26 women-led SMEs. The beneficiary SMEs are in ten districts across Balochistan. The grants, which ranged from PKR 0.5 to 30 million, were awarded based on robust evaluation of the business plans shared by the SMEs.

The GRASP Project, which is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in partnership with Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) and Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), was termed a game-changer for the economic development of rural areas in Balochistan by the Governor. He appreciated the contribution of EU, PPAF, and ITC and encouraged relevant line departments of the provincial government to allocate more funds to promote SMEs venturing in agri-businesses.

COO of PPAF, Mr. Nadir Gul Barech, highlighted the organization's mission to serve underserved regions of the country and praised the GRASP Project for making a positive impact in the 10 districts of Balochistan where it is being implemented.

He added that "It is truly uplifting to witness the positive impact of this project on the most vulnerable areas, as it not only enables market growth but also generates employment opportunities for the poorest communities. I am grateful to the European Union (EU) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) for their valuable investment in the region, which has improved access to finance for agri-based SMEs and accelerated the trend of entrepreneurship in the less developed areas of the province. Their contribution is crucial in promoting economic development and improving the lives of the underprivileged."

GRASP provincial lead Balochistan. Jahanzeb Khan, termed GRASP a unique intervention that would bring positive change in the respective communities and usher a broader development of the province through a revolution in the agriculture sector.

Haji Noor Muhammad Dumar, Minister Planning and Development, Government of Balochistan, while highlighting the significance of the GRASP project, noted that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up the bulk of businesses in Pakistan. To achieve broad, sustainable economic growth, these firms must grow and create jobs for the increasing workforce.

Ms Roshan Khursheed Bharucha, former Chairperson PPAF, remarked that the Matching Grants awarded to the SMEs are refelective of a strategic approach aimed at uplifting the SMEs through gender mainstreaming, policy shift, access to finance, networking, capacity building, and product improvement programs.

Shortlisting of the grantees was carried out in partnership with the UN agencies, including UN-ITC and UN-FAO, and PPAF, through leveraging upon their organisational resources to support the beneficiaries. Preference was given to progressive businesses which pitched innovative, smart, and competitive proposals.

The project is governed by three steering committees: One at the national level led by the Government of Pakistan and two at the provincial level led by the governments of Balochistan and Sindh. Key stakeholders include producers, agricultural service providers, small and medium-sized enterprises, policymakers, and consumers.