LAHORE-In a landmark development for Pakistan’s horticulture sector, the Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHDEC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) came together for a significant online meeting aimed at forging a partnership to combat the challenges posed by climate change.
The virtual meeting, held at the initiative of PHDEC, marked a pivotal moment in the pursuit of sustainable horticulture practices and the resilience of Pakistan’s agricultural landscape. Key stakeholders from both organizations participated, engaging in productive discussions on collaborative projects designed to mitigate climate change’s impact on the horticulture sector.
Athar Hussain Khokhar, CEO of PHDEC, warmly welcomed the participants, offering a comprehensive overview of PHDEC’s pivotal role in the horticulture sector and its broad-reaching mission. He underscored PHDEC’s unwavering commitment to initiatives that uplift horticulture cultivators and farmers, ensuring their prosperity and well-being. Ms. Florence Rolle, FAO Representative in Pakistan, shed light on FAO’s extensive portfolio of projects in Pakistan, with a particular focus on the provinces of Sindh and Punjab. She emphasized FAO’s ongoing efforts, including a critical initiative addressing Aflatoxin and Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) in red chillies within the Kunri and Umerkot regions of Sindh.
Aamir Irshad, another representative from FAO, highlighted the agency’s crucial work concerning the fruit fly issue. This destructive pest wreaks havoc on fruit and vegetable crops, causing losses of up to 30%, affecting beloved produce like peaches, guavas, and bitter gourds. Mujibur Rahman, Head of Office and Senior Horticulturist for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, stressed the urgent need for fruit fly resolution. This joint effort holds the potential to save substantial portions of the harvest, protecting fruits and vegetables from this formidable threat.
Mr James Okoth, Senior Programme Officer for Sindh, provided insights into FAO’s substantial engagement with over 33,000 small landholders in Sindh and Baluchistan. He elaborated on ongoing projects covering a variety of crops, including onions, tomatoes, mangoes, grapes, and more. One of the key takeaways from FAO Pakistan’s discussion was the pressing need to enhance food safety, hygiene, and agricultural practices at the farm level. Even larger-scale farmers were found to lack basic skills in product development, signaling a critical gap that demands attention.