Thursday, 17 May 2012

USAID’s agribusiness project to create 1.3m jobs

Karachi—Andrew Sisson Mission Director USAID has stated that various agribusiness projects (funded by the American people through USAID & implemented by Agribusiness Support Fund - ASF) some 1.3 million jobs would be generated. He was speaking at a MoU signing ceremony between Sindh Enterprise Development Fund (SEDF) & USAID’s ASF for cooperation in the areas of agriculture & agribusiness sector with particular focus on small & medium enterprises, held here on Wednesday.

Andrew Sisson noted though 21% GDP, 44% labor force & 70% of Pakistan’s exchange earnings was allied with agriculture, yet that & livestocksectors here were characterized by non-efficient production. He stressed on the importance of increasing productivity through adoption of new farming techniques & technological innovation. Commenting on the outcome of this 5-year 90-million-dollar Agribusiness Project he said that technical assistance programs targeted 62,500 farmers & 2,500 agribusinesses; leveraged investment was upto $320 million by the private sector through the provision of cost-sharing support to 45,000 farmer enterprise group members, 100 associations & cooperatives, 250 individual/corporate farmers, 140 SME’s & eight lead companies. ASF has teamed with an international organization CNFA for provision of expertise in relevant program implementation themes. He said that one of the objectives of the project was to strengthen the capacity in horticulture & livestock value chains to increase to domestic & foreign markets. Calling private sector the drivers of change, Andrew said USAID was working with “dynamic, vibrant, incredibly entrepreneurial & philanthropic private segment”.

Answering to a question regarding the change USAID had made so far Andrew informed that USAID was focused on 5 priority areas: energy, economic growth, agriculture, education & health. Quoting a few results achieved by USAID in the last couple of years he told they had added 450 mw of electricity benefiting 6 million Pakistanis (& in the next couple of years expect to add another 800 mw to the grid) - this include investments in three dams & renovating three power plants; support had been provided to 80,000 micro-entrepreneurs (mostly women - many in the dairy, working withcompanies like Engro & Nestle) who were getting more money & exposure now; USAID was in the process of financing construction of 600,000 acres of irrigation canals (& plan to increase it to a million acres in few years) benefiting hundreds of thousands of families; major investments had been made in FATA & KP where recently over 400 km of world-class roads had been made; construction of 215 km of road in South Waziristan just finished (“it is not an easy place to work”!). He told that due to the roads business was picking up in South Waziristan.

USAID Mission Director went on to inform that USAID (had been working for decades here as far as higher education was concerned: supported the creation of LUMS & IBA; helped set up several agricultural colleges…That tradition continues &) had just signed an agreement with HEC to establish three centers in three universities for agriculture, water and energy studies (these universities would be linked with American universities so that they could share knowledge). In basic education USAID had built hundreds of schools and the Sindh Minister of education had told Andrew that schools built a quarter century ago were still standing. He said that USAID would build hundreds of more schools and the bottom-line objective was to educate 3.2 millions kids. He told that USAID had launched National Literacy Campaign & had placed Basic Education Program in Sindh. Commenting on the health sector he said that USAID worked with lady health workers & built hospitals (two projects are under construction presently in Karachi & Jacobabad). He told that one of the foremost objectives of USAID was to reduce child mortality. Andrew further informed that USAID was currently renovating systems for provision of clean drinking water in Jacobabad & Peshawar. Earlier USAID had provided clean drinking water to half of the population of FATA.

Chairman Sindh Board of Investment Zubair Motiwala who is also heading Sindh Enterprise Development Fund (SEDF) said that in less then two years SEDF had identified & financed 13 areas & more were in the pipeline.
Original article Here

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