The EU-funded Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress (GRASP) project was launched in a virtual ceremony on 21 October in Islamabad. GRASP aims to uplift micro, small and medium agribusinesses in rural areas of Balochistan and Sindh and will be implement by the International Trade Centre (ITC) – the joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization – with other partners. Participants from the government, research and academia, development partners and public and private institutions and organizations attended the ceremony.
Working in 11 districts of Sindh and 10 districts of Balochistan, GRASP will work to connect farmers to the market and will address issues along the whole of that value chain. It focuses on the demand side: what markets, buyers and consumers want, and then drills down to the supply side by equipping producers and the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises with the skills, technology and services needed to meet that demand. The programme will help enterprises in the horticulture and livestock sectors become more competitive by supporting improvements at all levels of the value chain.
Speaking at the ceremony the Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan Ms Androulla Kaminara reiterated the EU support to Pakistan in the country’s development agenda in the pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals. Ambassador Kaminara highlighted the importance of gender inclusive Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) that provide ample employment opportunities to the people all over the globe and in Pakistan, particularly. Ambassador Kaminara elaborated that the GRASP project is expected to positively contribute to the betterment of business environment surrounding SME’s. She expressed her confidence that through GRASP project initiative, horticulture and livestock/ dairy sub-sectors of Agriculture will become more competitive across value chains, ultimately reducing poverty and generating economic momentum for rural SME’s in Pakistan.
The Executive Director of International Trade Center Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton and Advisor to the Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industry, and Production and Investment, Government of Pakistan Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood also spoke on this occasion and appreciated the support provided by the European Union through the GRASP project.
Speaking at the ceremony, Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor to the Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industry, and Production and Investment Government of Pakistan said, “I am confident the implementation of activities focused on SMEs will help unlock the potential in livestock and horticulture besides other sectors in the country that have been recently presented with additional challenges due to COVID-19.”
The EU is committed to support Pakistan to realize its full economic potential by supporting sustainable and inclusive development for all its citizens. The EU provides Pakistan with about €100 million annually in grants for development and cooperation. Among other issues, the EU supports Pakistan in its efforts to tackle poverty, increase education, promote good governance, human rights, rule of law and ensure sustainable management of natural resources.