ASF okays 46 grants for Rs7.27 million projects

ISLAMABAD (APP) - The Agri-business Support Fund's (ASF) Appraisal Committee has approved 46 grants for projects costing Rs 7.27 million for different private sector of agri-business enterprises. The focus of these projects was on reducing poverty in rural areas, especially in FANA and increasing revenues of Agri-business Enterprises, ASF sources said. Grants were approved for enterprises ranging from Farmer Groups to SMEs, from all over Pakistan for purchase of different BDS (Business Development Services). The ASF sources said, that the major initiative supported by ASF amounting to Rs. 13, 90,000/ is an applied research project initiated by Metro Cash & Carry Limited in collaboration with Pakistani Growers. The aim of the Project is to open up new markets for Pakistani Mangoes by reducing costs incurred in transportation. Specially treated Pakistani mangoes will be shipped by Sea to Europe in Controlled Atmosphere Containers. The Sea Transit takes up to 19 days, while the current mode of transit (By Air) 2 days. The experiment plans to increase shelf life of Mangoes to 25 to 30 days from the current 5 days and reduce transportation costs to 1/10 (One Tenth) of the prevailing costs. Thus the program will play a significant role in future export of mangoes to European countries. The grants will support Farmers Enterprise Groups (around 350 Farmers in the groups) in establishment of Solar Dehydration Units, Certified Onion & Potato Seeds Production and commercial production & marketing of Kilao, a local delicacy of Gilgit and Chitral. Agribusiness Enterprises were provided support in obtaining different certifications needed for export to Global Markets. These Certifications included GlobalGAP, British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ISO 22000:2005 (Food Safety Management System) certifications. The implementation, inspection and certification for GlobalGAP will be provided by a local Pakistani Certifying Body, which was previously supported by ASF in getting accreditation in providing certification. The ASF was created under the auspices of the Rs. 4.1 Billion ADDP (Agribusiness Development & Diversification Project of MINFAL) with support from ADB. The aim of ASF is developing the agribusiness sector in Pakistan and thereby supporting economic growth & employment generation. The ASF has been tasked with promoting the private sector agribusiness enterprises by providing matching grants for purchase of "Business Development Services" and also providing capacity building support to BDS Providers. Kilao is a local, traditional product of district Ghizer. This product is made of Walnuts, apricot Kernels, Almonds and Wheat flour and the pulp of Mulberry or grapes. First of all the pulp (juice) of grapes or Mulberries is cooked in a big boiler until it becomes thick fluid known as Dishaw in local language. 3 kilos of wheat flour is mixed in the pulp of about 10 kg of pulp of grapes or mulberries. Again it is cooked for about 2 to 2.5 hours. Then the walnuts, almonds and apricots Kernels which is usually pierced in thread like beads are dipped into that processed pulp. The marinated nuts are then hanged on the tree branches or inside the stores to save them from flies, dusts and rainfalls, but now in modern method they will dry it inside in a small dehydration tunnel on racks to save it from dust, rain, and insects etc.

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