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LAHORE: The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA), under patronage of the Ministry of Industries and Production (MoIP), has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Trade Centre (ITC) to undertake joint activities for effective implementation of the EU-funded grant project; “Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress” (GRASP).

GRASP is a six-year project designed to reduce poverty in Pakistan by strengthening small-scale agri-businesses in two provinces i.e. Balochistan and Sindh. It will help small and medium-sized enterprises in horticulture and livestock become more competitive by making improvements at all levels of the value chain.

The project is implemented by the International Trade Centre, the joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation, with active participation from both foreign and local partners including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF). The project is funded by the delegation of the European Union to Pakistan with a budget of up to €48,000,000 (Rs.308 million approximately).

Hashim Raza, CEO of SMEDA informed that under the MoU, SMEDA and ITC will conduct multiple joint activities to facilitate SMEs in Sindh and Balochistan in the areas of horticulture and livestock, which include; facilitating rural businesses, contributing to the development of SME competitiveness and sustainability strategies, developing feasibility study reports to facilitate investments in climate resilient infrastructure, etc.

The project is envisaged to be governed by three steering committees: One at the national level led by the Government of Pakistan and two at the provincial level led by the governments of Balochistan and Sindh. Key stakeholders include producers, agricultural service providers, small and medium-sized enterprises, consumers and policymakers at both provincial and federal level, also including Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA), Ministry of Industries and Production, Government of Pakistan.ka.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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