Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress (GRASP) a project funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Trade Centre, held its first National Project Steering Committee (NPSC) on 25 August 2021 in the premises of Ministry of Commerce and virtual link. Comprising of key influencers in the government, development, and agriculture and livestock sector, the NPSC will provide guidance to GRASP action as it works to improve the business environment of small and medium enterprises in the Pakistan.
Secretary, Ministry of Commerce chaired the first meeting and acknowledged the support and headway made in assisting SME’s across the two provinces (Sindh, Balochistan) under the project. Representatives from relevant public and private sector attended the meeting.
GRASP team provided updates to the committee members on the implementation of project activities, inception phase, COVID-19 response strategy, and implementation strategy. After conducting rapid assessment of SMEs in the provinces, COVID-19 response was implemented in four high-risk districts of Balochistan and Sindh both.
The project raised awareness on government finance schemes to farmers and SMEs, built capacity of market committees, and is processing business cases for grant support. To date, over 40,000 livestock have been vaccinated in Sindh and Balochistan under the emergency work plan, and over 2000 men and women trained in kitchen gardening and animal rearing. The GRASP project aims to increase economic opportunity and contribute to sustainability of small and medium enterprises in horticulture and livestock /dairy sectors.
The committee chair expressed his gratitude to the European Union for their ongoing support to uplift the horticulture and livestock sectors in the two provinces, which is the main source of livelihood for many. They pledged their support to GRASP for the implementation of activities, and its work on policy development, bringing a positive change in the lives of farmers and SMEs, while creating jobs in the country.
Ovidiu MIC, Head of Cooperation in his opening remarks while acknowledging the support of the Secretary of Ministry of Commerce and all relevant quarters, reiterated the EU support in contributing towards the development of Pakistan’s economy. He emphasised on the close cooperation among all the relevant ministries, departments and private sector institutions involved in the implementation of the GRASP project.