ISLAMABAD – U.S. Ambassador Richard G. Olson and Balochistan Additional Secretary of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Mr. Imran Khan, commemorated the conclusion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Pakistan Agriculture and Cold Chain Development Project in a ceremony highlighting the project’s accomplishments.
A joint effort between the USDA, Winrock International, and a number of agricultural organizations in Balochistan, the project funded the construction of 78 physical structures such as cold storage, banana ripening units, and drying tunnels throughout the province.
The five-year project was funded under USDA’s Food for Peace Program by selling 21,000 metric tons of U.S. soybean oil and using the proceeds to fund capacity building initiatives and the construction of cold storage and other food preservation tools in Balochistan. Reflecting on Balochistan’s position as a top producer of many fruits, nuts, and vegetables in Pakistan, Ambassador Olson commented that “Balochistan is the province that adds variety to Pakistan’s diet. Our project helps to connect Balochistan with consumers in the rest of Pakistan.” He noted that at the start of the project, U.S. and Pakistani officials realized that finding a way to “help Balochistan’s perishable crops reach consumers throughout Pakistan in the best and safest condition possible would help to reduce losses, improve returns to farmers, and meet the demands of consumers.”
The project also supported the seafood sector by providing over 30 flake ice units to enhance fishermen’s ability to safely store and prolong the life of their catches. So far, over 220,000 Pakistanis have benefited from the Project and report a 20-25 percent reduction in losses and a corresponding increase in income. Mr. Haji Ghousullah a trader from Chaman and a beneficiary of the project remarked, “I see my cold storage facility developing into a major hub for fresh fruits and vegetables storage in the area.”
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), links U.S. agriculture to the world to enhance export opportunities and global food security. Recognizing its importance to economic growth, the United States is helping to boost Pakistan’s agricultural productivity, particularly through improved irrigation, technology, and sharing best practices. The United States also helps Pakistani agribusinesses expand their sales and operations, with the goal of linking thousands of local producers nationwide to major commercial firms.