KARACHI: The US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Entrepreneurs Project on Friday in Karachi held a project close-out ceremony marking the successful completion of Women Empowerment through Livestock Development (WELD) – part of USAID’s Dairy Value Chain Project. Dairy farmers from Northern Sindh and Southern Punjab, representatives from Pakistan’s livestock sector and local NGOs, and USAID officials joined project beneficiaries at the ceremony.
Speaking at the event as chief guest, Leon S Waskin, USAID’s Regional Director for Sindh and Balochistan said, “Livestock, especially dairy farming, is the most important component of Pakistan’s farming system. Through USAID’s Entrepreneurs Project, the American people have provided Pakistan’s rural dairy farmers, especially women dairy farmers, increased tools and understanding to improve their production, generating greater economic opportunity for themselves as well as for Pakistan’s entire dairy industry.”
Speaking at the occasion, Ali Ansari – President & CEO Engro Corp said, “The WELD project is an illustration of how we can join hands to change Pakistan. Engro believes in an inclusive growth model where we look at creating meaningful impact for stakeholders across our value chain and uplifting the communities around our facilities. Our partnership with USAID for the project has enabled us to do a lot more for the communities, especially for women.
The project has been remarkably successful and has increased household income by 50% for more than 19,000 dairy farmers, predominantly women, and provided a fantastic model for poverty alleviation and social empowerment. We urge the provincial governments to replicate it across the country to enhance sustainable incomes for the poorest in our society”.
Pakistan is the fifth largest milk producing country in the world with 35.6 billion liters (natural contents) of milk produced every year. While Sindh produces 23% of Pakistan’s milk output, the average yield per animal is low at only 3.5 liters daily.
Through the WELD program, USAID has taught rural dairy farmers and encouraged them to adopt better farm practices, promoted small enterprises in the form of input supply hubs, developed commercial milk marketing channels with the installation of milk chillers, and improved the economic conditions of project beneficiaries.
The Project has also given special emphasis to the empowerment of women, who contribute greatly to economic growth efforts.
USAID, in cooperation with the Engro Foundation and other local partners, has implemented the Dairy Value Chain Project and WELD program in seven districts of Sindh, including Larkana, Dadu, Shikarpur, Sukkur, Khairpur, Ghotki and Naushero Feroze two districts of Punjab, including Muzaffargarh and Layyah.