LAHORE: Six Pakistani exporters of fresh fruits and vegetables have been pre-selected by the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), Netherlands for its export coaching programme, an official said.
Spokesman for Agribusiness Support Fund (ASF) said that the combined efforts by the fund and the Commercial Wing of the Embassy of Pakistan in Netherlands have enabled Pakistan to qualify for the export coaching programme for the first time since it was offered to the developing countries in 2007.
Seeing the substantial potential in the programme, ASF assumed the responsibility earlier this year since no other agency in Pakistan had been successful and the deadline to apply for the programme had lapsed. Timely intervention by the Commercial Wing of the Embassy of Pakistan in Netherlands allowed the deadline to be extended for Pakistan as a special case, he said.
Wide circulation of advertisement in local newspapers followed by contacts made through telephone and letters to the selected exporters resulted in the short-listing of 14 applicants by ASF, out of which six have been pre-selected by the CBI, he said.
CBI is an agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and part of the development cooperation effort of the Netherlands.
CBI contributes to the equitable economic development of selected developing countries by providing export marketing and management support with the purpose of increasing exports to Europe, the spokesman said.
Export coaching programme is a unique initiative by CBI for extending high-level of support to exporters from developing countries, struggling to market their fresh fruits and vegetables in the European Union.
The programme has been especially designed to help selected companies with export ambition and potential to surmount many obstacles separating them from sustainable European sales, he said.
The spokesman also said that CBI’s support under this programme includes on-site company audits and counseling, an in-depth training at home and in Europe and participation in leading European trade fairs.
The single purpose of the export coaching programme is to enable participating export companies to establish a healthy, long-term position in the EU markets.
The EU’s current 27-member states together consumed around 46 million tons of fresh fruits and 59 million tons of vegetables in 2007.
The EU imports of fresh fruits accounted for 21 billion euros by value, reaching 26 million tons, whereas imports of fresh vegetables amounted to 11.8 million tons with a value of 12.1 billion euros.
The spokesman said that the European fresh fruits and vegetables market offers good opportunities for exports from developing countries. However, many exporters struggle to gain and hold a position in the European market. Many fail to meet internal organisational conditions regarding European regulations and quality assurance, while insufficient knowledge of strategic marketing approaches and research methods hinders them from effectively navigating the EU’s complex markets. As a result, they fail to develop a broad base for sustainable export business, he said.
ASF has also pledged its financial support for the selected exporters pertaining to the cost of registration and during upgradation and implementation process.
Agribusiness Support Fund is a not-for-profit company, established by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the Agribusiness Development and Diversification Project (ADDP).
ASF extends its support in the shape of matching grants to agribusiness concerns in the horticulture and livestock sectors. While having its office in Lahore, ASF is also represented by its liaison offices, as well as the offices of ADDP, located in the four provinces, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Federally Administered Northern Areas and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).