Seminar held on Rural Women SMEs in Agriculture in Sindh
Exhibition was also organized to showcase entrepreneurial journey of women-led agricultural enterprises
Research & Development Foundation has assisted 250 women entrepreneurs and 5 Business Support Organizations to add value in horticulture and livestock sector
International Women’s day was celebrated by holding a seminar and a dialogue on Sindh Women Agricultural Workers Act 2019 under Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress (GRASP), a European Union (EU) funded project being implemented by UN International Trade Centre in collaboration with Research and Development Foundation (RDF).
A seminar and exhibition was held to showcase the entrepreneurial journey of women led agricultural enterprises. This was followed by a dialogue on Sindh Women’s Agricultural Act 2019. The event was attended by the rural women SMEs, government officials and representatives of civil society organizations.
Minister for Labor Department Government of Sindh Saeed Ghani, was the chief guest on the occasion, who while talking on this act said that this law provides the rural agricultural women with strength to raise their voice for their rights.
“Sindh Government has an eye on specific issues of the agricultural workers. This initiative of formulating this act is a revolutionary step towards development of agricultural sector of Pakistan”, he added.
Talking on the data, he said that proper data can help labor department in implementing this law more efficiently. “This act may require continuous amendments after implementation. It is very important for the people to know about this act for whom this act has been formulated”, he added.
Ms. Enrica Montersino, Rural Development Advisor at European Union, expressed her pleasure to be a part of this event and interact with women entrepreneurs and listen to their successful journeys with GRASP. She said that women are the face of society and GRASP women entrepreneurs should support other women as well to uplift their businesses.
Rizwan Tariq, Provincial Lead GRASP Sindh, ITC In his opening remarks said that GRASP project which is empowering rural women of livestock and horticulture sector in decision making and income generation in Sindh and Baluchistan.
Tariq informed the participants about the last year’s success story of establishing the livestock marketplaces for GRASP’s women-led SMEs in Sindh, where they sold their animals directly to larger markets without manipulation of the middleman.
He said that the aim to establishing first ever women farmers’ market, within the regular market, was to endorse presence of women entrepreneurs within the market, which is otherwise crowded and dominated by the male sellers and buyers/consumers.
Haris Gazdar, Board Member of Social Protection Authority said that the sole obstacle to the Act’s execution is the workers’ lack of registration. In order to eliminate the obstacle the LHRD at this stage aims to concentrate exclusively on the registration of the women agricultural workers, an area where the GRASP ITC can contribute its resources.”
He added that women agriculture workers act is first of its kind in Pakistan and South Asian countries to protect women agriculture workers, whilst their social protection.
Ashfaq Soomro, Executive Director of Research & Development Foundation (RDF) shared that through the GRASP project, RDF has assisted around 250 women entrepreneurs and 5 Business Support Organizations (BSOs) to add value in horticulture and livestock sector. We had organized several trainings for women SMEs and equipped them in twelve districts, he added. SMEs learnt to make their Facebook profiles and pages and connect to the buyers by promoting their products online, he informed.
Dr. Sahar Gul Gender Advisor of GRASP shared with the audience that they had connected SMEs to the local markets to sell their livestock and other value-added products, such as Khoya, butter & desi ghee. On the IWD 2022, at Mohatta Palace Museum, the same SMEs participated from almost all 12 districts of Sindh in the women farmers’ expo and exhibited/sold their products. Growing number of urban costumers from Karachi bought their goods and expressed immense appreciation. Their interest in growing their entrepreneurial connections and fortifying their linkages with larger markets was sparked by that exposure to our SMEs.
Khizar Pervaiz, CEO, Sindh Enterprise Development Fund (SEDF) said that if the emerging rural women entrepreneurs are provided with proper support, they could avail many opportunities and perform well. He shared various government financing schemes which are designed to ease the process of accessing to finance for rural entrepreneurs.
He shared that SEDF provides both, the technical and financial support to business persons to avail bank loans without mark-up and other financial products.
Ms. Tanzeela Qambrani Member of Provincial Assembly briefed about the background of making this workers act. She said that this act urges on providing equal rights to men and women agricultural workers. This bill has given protection to agricultural women.
She suggested that registration forms need to be simplified and in local language.
Nisar Memon, CEO, Sindh Social Protection Authority (SSPA) presented various interventions and progress of the work done by the authority in Sindh.
Others who spoke include Ms. Bianca Cravenna, Project Management officer, GRASP, Javed Soz of Sindh Community Foundation, Ms. Rafia Gulani, Chairperson Nari Council, Abdul Samad Soomro, Joint Director Labour and HR department.
Participants also visited SME Bazar established by the women entrepreneurs in GRASP value chain products, at the hotel, which attracted direct sale of products as well to encourage women entrepreneurs. (PR)