MDF hired a short term consultant to conduct market surveys and finalize a study on constraints and opportunities within mulberry value chain and conduct farmers training in Mastung, Balochistan. Mulberry growers lack knowledge and awareness regarding quality control systems, importance of hygienic conditions and safe food. Hence no technology is involved at drying and packaging stage. FAO, through its Balochistan Agriculture Programme (BAP) and the Australia Balochistan Agri-Business Programme (AusABBA), encouraged and supported mulberry growers to organize themselves into enterprise groups called farmer marketing collectives (FMCs) for aggregating their produce to create economies of scale including improved bargaining power leading to enhanced sales. Dried mulberry is very infamous product in traditional dry fruit markets and most of the produce goes to ethnic festivals particularly Sehwan festival in Sindh.
However, despite huge quantities of mulberries produced in Mastung, the value chain has weaknesses at its various stages. The objective of hiring a consultant was to recommend better harvesting and drying practices and help farmers increase their produce quality. Even though ethnic festivals are low-quality conscious, but would still pay higher given that dried mulberry is cleaner and properly packed. With these improved practices farmers can enhance shelf life of their produce and wait until Sehwan festival begins. There is also significant women involvement in mulberry drying. Female farmers harvest and dry mulberries within borders of their homes. Therefore, consultant trained FAO’s female master trainers who conducted female trainings in Mastung and demonstrated better cost-effective drying packaging techniques to female farmers.