USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) partners with a variety of non-profit groups, cooperatives and international organizations to promote food security and develop agricultural capacity in countries around the world. Recently, I had a chance to read a report that highlights the successful partnership between FAS and Winrock International in Pakistan that I wanted to share with blog readers.
“Being a female in this region is tough but running a business [is even tougher], so … to own the first-ever modern cold store facility in Balochistan is another proud moment in my life.” - Ms. Safina Bibi, Owner, Safina Cold Store, Pakistan
Pakistan’s first and only woman-owned cold storage facility, Safina Cold Store, has provided storage capacity to local farmers and fruit traders in the Balochistan Province since 1984. With the help of the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Food for Progress program, Safina Bibi’s facility recently received much-needed renovations making it the first modern cold storage facility in the province.
The Pakistan Agriculture and Cold Chain Development Project (PACCD) is a three-year FAS-supported project that will link horticultural and fishery production in Balochistan to modern markets throughout the country, as well as abroad. The project was designed and implemented by Winrock International, a nonprofit organization that works to sustain natural resources for people around the world.
Balochistan is widely known as the fruit basket of Pakistan. Most of the population relies on some form of subsistence level farming, animal husbandry or coastal fishing for its livelihood. Yet, a significant percentage of the province’s produce never reaches prime markets. For Balochistan farmers, traders and facilities such as Safina Cold Store, potential significant income is not being realized because proper cold chain and post-harvest handling practices and equipment are not in place.
Despite Safina Cold Store’s 250-ton storage capacity, access to water and electricity and close proximity to Balochistan’s horticulture growers and markets, it couldn’t meet increasing demand for storage by local farmers and traders. The cold store consumed a high level of energy and incurred huge expenses due to outdated equipment and infrastructure. This compromised the quality of the stored goods and negatively impacted the livelihoods of the farmers, traders and the store owner. What SCS needed was technical expertise to guide them in how to maintain a cost-effective and energy-friendly facility.
Winrock International partnered with the Safina Cold Store to provide an in-kind grant of modern equipment and remodel the facilities — upgrading the cold store to a modern storage facility for locally produced apples, grapes, pomegranates and dates throughout the year. The benefits of upgrading the Safina Cold Store facility are numerous, not only for Safina Bibi, but also the farmers and traders of Quetta. These benefits include greater energy efficiency, easiermaintenance, reduced storage expenses, longer shelf life for fruit and decreased waste.
Ultimately, the remodeled storage unit will help Safina Cold Storage and local farmers reach a wider customer base by offering fruits and vegetables that retain their freshness and quality and generate higher profits.
By Dan Gudahl, a senior program officer with the non-profit Winrock International