Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) Engro Foods and the Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) signed The Big Push Project which aims to create an eco-system within the dairy sector where 9000 plus farmers are trained in modern animal husbandry practices, with a focus on increasing milk production and incomes. In order to provide complementary services such as health and nutrition, the program will also train micro entrepreneurs in livestock extension skills, village milk collection skills and artificial insemination skills.
Furthermore, to create milk potential and enhance skills within the sector, the program will also train labourers in medium sized farms as supervisors. The program will be implemented in sixty (60) villages across Muzaffarabad, Lodhran, Bahawalpur and Bahwalnagar which have been identified as some of the poorest districts in the country. It is envisaged that this intervention will result in improvement of milk yield and quality thus benefiting small farmers with better prices and increasing livelihood. To monitor the impact of this project and to support Government policy formulation through evidence based data, PSDF has engaged the Centre of Economic Research Pakistan (CERP), headed by lead academics Dr. Asim Khawaja from Harvard University and Dr. Ali Cheema from LUMS.
Speaking at the ceremony, Hans Laarakker CEO Engro Foods, a part of the global Dutch giant Royal FrieslandCampina (RFC) said: “We are pleased to enter into this agreement with the Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF). When the Government, academia and the private sector come together, real progress can be made. Dairy development and helping small dairy farmers is a key focus of our Company and it ensures our consumers get high quality and nutritious milk. With the Big Push Project, we aim to train 9,000 plus farmers in modern animal husbandry practices, 550 micro entrepreneurs in entrepreneurship skills, and 150 farm laborers from medium sized farms. This will contribute significantly to the development of small farmers in the region and reflects our dedication to develop the dairy industry in Pakistan with the Government of Punjab.”
Addressing to the audience Dr. Ijaz Nabi, Chairman of the Punjab Skills Development Fund said: Upgrading livestock skills is key to improving livelihood in rural areas. Better skills will usher in knowledge intensive production processes for sustained long term growth of the rural economy. Punjab Skills Development Fund is partnering with dynamic private companies to augment government capacity to deliver innovative training in the livestock sector. PSDF’s recent experience is that, when well designed, this partnership yields high social returns. PSDF Board and management will regularly monitor and improve the program design to ensure that the development objectives are met.
Mr Jawad Khan CEO of the Punjab Skills Development Fund – stated: “Engro, PSDF and the Punjab Government see this program as a development project with its subsequent impact to reduce poverty in the impoverished region of Southern Punjab. Through infusion of skills and promotion of entrepreneurship, the program looks to create increased incomes for farmers and their families. Together in collaboration with Engro Foods I am hopeful that the program will increase income of farmers and generate employment for multiple stakeholders.”
This project will help towards poverty alleviation and the data and information from CERP monitoring and evaluation, will help formulate Government skills policy in the region. The project in Southern Punjab is a strategic area for Engro Foods, with potential to grow into a big market for milk.