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one. But we are now more focused on the
"In Pakistan the majority of farmers hold
less than 5 hectares of land. So our goal is to
reach more of the farmers for whom innovation
and fine tuning of management practices can
alleviate poverty and bring benefits to society."
One thing Dr Kazmi stresses is that there is no
intention to copy Australian farming practices
but rather to understand the science behind
the technology that makes Australian farms so
productive. The aim is to then modify and adapt
it for farmers in Pakistan and their local situation.
"One example is the emphasis we have
placed on improving nursery practices in
both the mango and citrus projects," Dr Kazmi
says. "We are not importing any material or
technology from Australia for the nurseries.
Pakistani smallholders could not afford it.
"Instead we work with what is available locally.
This is an approach that makes innovation and
productivity gains affordable while emancipating
the local economies of smallholders."
MANGOES, CITRUS AND DAIRY
The agricultural sector in Pakistan contributes
21.8% to the country's gross domestic product.
Of particular importance are the mango, citrus
and dairy sectors.
ASLP2 assistant coordinator Dr Greg
Johnson says dairy is by far the country's largest
agricultural industry. It ranks fourth in the world,
with production worth an estimated US$5.77
billion in 2008.
About eight million farm families are
responsible for 95% of this milk production.
Most are smallholders with two to five animals
raised on farms that often also produce wheat,
maize and cotton. About 66% of Pakistan's
milk is actually produced by buffaloes; the
remainder comes from cattle.
Dr Johnson says that given the informal and
traditional structure of the industry, most of the
milk produced is used for family consumption
or traded locally.
"Of particular note for poverty reduction is
the economic scope that dairy offers people
with no secure land tenure, as a significant
proportion of the land-less raise dairy cattle as a
major source of income," he says.
Analysis by ASLP scientists found a dairy
sector in which production levels are below
genetic potential and smallholders too far
removed from market considerations. The
situation proved similar in the fruit sector.
Pakistan harvested about 1.75 million tonnes
of mangoes in 2008 from the Punjab and Sindh
regions and 2.5 million tonnes of citrus, most of it
mandarins. This production level makes Pakistan
the world's fifth-largest mango producer and the
fifth-largest exporter of mandarins.
Farmer income, however, is constrained by
high postharvest losses, low export levels (less
than 5% for mangoes and 10% for citrus) and
low export prices due to poor quality, handling
With the government of Pakistan eager
for incomes to increase among smallholders,
the ASLP partners agreed on two main
strategies: improving production and
Dr Johnson says that the benefit of this
approach is illustrated in the mango sector
where, despite export volume remaining
relatively constant (as a percentage of total
production), export value has risen from
US$32 million in 2007 to US$61 million in 2009,
which amounts to a 33% increase in price.
The process, however, places added pressure
on producers to improve quality and meet
international standards, issues that ASLP is helping
farmers address. The Australians on the team also
evaluated where Australian expertise could be
brought in to the greatest effect and focused on
adding value to existing production systems.
For horticulture these included the
introduction and evaluation of new types of
citrus and new varieties, the improvement of
nursery production systems for virus-free stock,
and the provision of improved management
"For citrus, the focus was on improving
orchard management practices," Dr Johnson
says. "The season was very short, so the program
is helping to expand that window and reduce
'seediness', which is unpopular in some markets."
Besides working with farmers on production
issues, ASLP teams also distributed surveys in
international markets, all the way through to
retailers, to collect information about what
buyers look for in Pakistani fruit. Feedback is then
provided to growers and exporters who can use
the information to target different markets.
"Through the ASLP we established
demonstration sites where we can showcase
the results of all the agricultural practices being
made available to smallholders," Dr Kazmi says.
"The value-chain team members then market
the fruit from these sites as a trial shipment
and that allows them to go to the growers and
tell them what the returns are from adopting
certain farming practices."
Dr Chrys Akem from the Queensland
Department of Employment, Economic
Development and Innovation (DEEDI) explains
that a system-wide approach is one of the
strengths of Australian horticulture in general
and mangoes in particular.
"The systems approach and integration
of end users in the planning, execution and
evaluation of research are unique attributes
that could be brought to bear in Pakistan," Dr
Akem says. "It promises significant opportunities
for impacts on productivity and more efficient
From Dr Kazmi's perspective on the ground
in Pakistan, the approach has earned the
respect of Pakistani farmers. "Advice provided
by Australian scientists is often considered
convincing and is followed more diligently
than advice offered in the past from extension
services," he says. "If the Pakistani project teams
know that somebody from the Australian team
is coming to discuss the project, they are more
enthusiastic. It is a morale builder."
However, travel to Pakistan has sometimes
been restricted due to security concerns.
Nonetheless, links and friendships have been
forged as partners found alternative means to
"As part of building research, development
and extension capacity within Pakistan, the
ASLP has provided the means for the Pakistani
participants to travel to third-party countries
that import Pakistani fruit or to Australia,"
Dr Kazmi says.
"When we launched ASLP, we brought a
group of growers to Australia who developed
good links with the Australian Mango Industry
Association. We are trying to develop the same
kind of linkages with the Australian citrus
industry. Some of the more enterprising farmers
have even made contact with Australian
scientists by email and Skype."
Among the more frequent Australian
visitors to Pakistan are Professor Peter Wynn's
livestock team from Charles Sturt University
(CSU), who identified poor nutrition as the main
limitation to milk production and are helping
farmers make up the shortfall. He places special
emphasis on communication between farmers
and extension officers.
"There is a major opportunity for Australian
technical support to help develop the dairy
sector by enhancing extension services
provided to farmers," Professor Wynn says.
"This includes improving the style of
communications with farmers, the information
available to extension staff to address farmer
problems, the skills and number of extension
staff, and the capacity to consider problems and
solutions in a whole-farm systems context." n
PROJECT: Australia--Pakistan Agriculture
Sector Linkages Program (ASLP)
CONTACT: Dr Munawar R. Kazmi,
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