Women in Pakistan I Photobook

Systemic Change in the Fodder Market I Case Study

ICT & Information Dissemination

Silage Baithak

Pakistan has one of the significantly large agricultural livestock industries in the world. Over the last few decades, farm animal populations grew so quickly that local fodder producers could not keep up with demand. Due to insufficient silage supplies, smallholder farmers must use crop residue as animal feed, which limits potential milk production. MDF identified the insufficient supply of nutritious fodder as a market growth opportunity. It is for this reason that over the last six years, MDF Pakistan developed a market system for small-baled silage – a cost effective and nutritious, maize- based fodder. By establishing local partnerships, MDF successfully introduced innovative machinery, designed and rolled-out new loan products, developed and popularised appropriate seed usage and helped mitigate risk to support local farmers to produce and sell their own small-bale silage. To reach this goal, MDF Pakistan established partnerships with rural silage entrepreneurs, a commercial bank, a farm equipment supplier and a seeds company.

Through field assessments, MDF Pakistan learned that if good quality fodder is available, milk yields can increase by up to two litres per animal per day. In January 2018, to scale-up extensive work in silage, MDF decided to bring all its strategic partners on a single platform to promote the successful, small-baled silage business model to potential entrepreneurs. The team did this through Engagement and Influencing (EI) events, branded as “Silage Baithaks,” as part of the scale-up strategy in MDF’s silage journey.

This policy brief describes why MDF Pakistan chose to use EI events in conjunction with other forms of outreach and how MDF engaged its partners to identify and connect with the right audience.

This brief will explain the benefits of EI events. These programs deepen a project’s impact within a market system and help strengthen growing business models.

Click on the button below to download the entire Policy Brief.

Balochistan: A Date with Opportunity

In Pakistan, MDF and its partners have found ways to add value to horticulture off-take – creating new products, lifting prices and improving the shelf-life of fruit and spices products so they can be sold beyond the local markets.

The need for skilled workers has meant opportunities for women to work and for farmers in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and parts of Sindh to improve their earnings from the produce they grow.

MDF’s partner Baloch Hamza Brothers, in the conservative region Panjgur, Balochistan, set up a gender-segregated date processing facility. This meant women could take up seasonal labouring jobs. In Balochistan, women do not get a lot of opportunities to work. The company proved to be a change agent. 50 per cent of BHB’s workforce is now female, inspired by the owner’s wife, who has acted as a powerful role model for women, encouraging them to try out working at the processing facility.

The documentary Balochistan: A Date with Opportunity highlights the issues, challenges and successes regarding private sector investors and women at work in the Borderlands. The forward strides made by MDF partner Baloch Hamza Brothers features that change is possible in Balochistan.

Click on the button below to watch Balochistan: A Date with Opportunity.


Telenor Pakistan is one of the largest telecommunications service providers in Pakistan. It has a subscriber base of more than 44 million and a 28 per cent market share of the Pakistan’s telecommunication market.

Telenor’s Khushaal Zamindar (Prosperous Farmer) 7272 service is a weather and crop advisory service launched first in Punjab and then later in Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral, through Market Development Facility’s support. The service provides relevant, actionable and timely information to the farmers in their local language through outbound calls and text messages.

Market Constraints

Farmers in rural areas have limited access to information on crop cultivation and animal husbandry which affects their productivity and investment. Due to the lack of information, farmers use poor quality inputs, apply inadequate fertilisers inconsistently and struggle to control crop diseases and pests. Variation in weather and absence of timely information causes problems during sowing, harvesting and post harvesting periods. Weather in Gilgit and Chitral varies from valley to valley and results in crop losses.


MDF supported Telenor to provide famers in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Chitral access to actionable, timely and relevant crop information on their mobile phones. This helps them to reach higher yields and reduce post-harvest losses. Having the right information is critical to supporting the growing, processing and post-harvesting processes, to properly manage fruit and vegetable cultivation.

MDF enabled Telenor to build an understanding of regional agricultural constraints and expanded their service into new regions through the crop advisory and weather alerts service. MDF helped them with research on agriculture constraints and sourcing weather content for advisory service. It connected them with relevant stakeholders in the region and supported in developing and stylising content according to the regional social norms.

Click on the link below to download the Partner fact sheet.

Baloch Hamza Brothers Dates Company

Based in Panjgur, Balochistan, Baloch Hamza Brothers (BHB) is a date processing company which supplies dates to regional urban centres across Pakistan. It collects, processes, packs and sells dates of different varieties and date products.

Market Constraints

Due to the region’s remoteness, date farmers in Balochistan are disconnected from relevant information on production practices, quality inputs and access to premium domestic and international markets. As such, dates grown in Panjgur are sold to traders who transport them to other regional hubs. They are then processed and sold back into domestic and international markets. The long supply chain between consumers and date farmers decreases their chances of earning fair prices.

Additionally, after they are harvested, farmers pile dates on top of one another, causing those at the bottom to be crushed. This reduces their quality, resulting in post-harvest losses and less produce for markets, leading again to lower incomes for farmers.


MDF supported BHB to enhance farmers’ access to markets and provide better access to inputs. By setting up processing machinery, BHB was able to increase its processing capacity and cater to growing demand. It is now able to process and pack dates of different varieties, and supplies to local markets and retailers across Balochistan.

Additionally, MDF provided BHB with plastic crates for storage. Farmers now get better prices for higher quality produce and have more dates to sell, increasing their incomes.

MDF and BHB also worked together to establish a women-only date processing facility, where women can come and work on date cleaning, processing and packing in a conducive environment. Female workers were trained by a supervisor on how to pit and clean dates.

Click on the button below to download the entire Baloch Hamza Brothers Partner Fact sheet.

Farm Dynamics Pakistan

Developing an Inclusive Market for Nutritious Fodder Seeds.

Promoting and packing rye grass seeds in appropriate sizes for smallholder farmers in Gilgit Baltistan.

Farm Dynamics Pakistan (FDP) is a leading agri-input company which aims to popularise high-quality hybrid seeds of rhodes grass and rye grass. It provides an effective package of farming solutions to farmers, including demonstrations of efficient farming practices and technologies, crop handling, tunnel farming and fodder production. FDP is working with ‘Blue Ribbon Seeds’, an Australian seeds company, to launch and promote nutritious fodder seed varieties in the country.

A key constraint faced by small dairy farmers in Pakistan is the limited availability of nutritious feed. As a result, animals are not well-nourished, particularly in the dry season when fodder runs out, which causes low milk yields. Currently, the availability of quality fodder is very limited partly because the bulk is being bought by large commercial dairy farms. Smallholders, who constitute a majority of the dairy farmers in Pakistan, are largely unserved.

Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is a remote region in North of Pakistan, where there is a lack of availability of nutritious fodder seed varieties. Seasonal shortages force farmers to rely on alternative fodders, which are costly and mostly poor in nutritional value. They use crop residue, such as wheat straw, as a substitute – leading to lower milk yields.

At the same time, there is a lack of awareness of how to grow highly nutritious fodders from hybrid seeds, such as rye grass. These are multi-cut and last for many years, leading to a significant improvement in animal milk yields. Because they’re available year-round, these varieties provide farmers with better consistency in animal feeding. However, large package sizes of innovative seeds meant that small farmers often couldn’t afford to buy them.

To help create awareness of the different options available, MDF and FDP signed a partnership to promote rye grass seeds, package them in appropriate sizes for smallholder farmers and invest in distribution channels.

MDF began by supporting FDP’s product availability with outreach activities. These included inviting high-level opinion leaders to information seminars, working with potential clients from medium and smallholder farmers at farmer days, and extension support through field agronomists.

In addition to improved sales through distributors, FDP also sold their seeds through mid-tier farms in areas where there is a local demand. Seeing the uptake of this new fodder solution, other companies also started to sell rye grass seeds in the region.

The agricultural market developed further, with greater inclusivity as a result of various farmer segments being targeted in the region. Many of the women farmers lead farming activities in GB and thus were a major focus of the intervention.

Click on the button below to download the entire Stories of Significant Change: Farm Dynamics Pakistan.

Khattak Seeds Company

Increasing Access to Cucumber Farming in Pakistani Households

Supporting Khattak Seeds Company to increase the productivity of small cucumber farmers by providing information on vertical farming.

Khattak Seeds Company (KSC), a local input supplier, was established in 1983 in Akora Khattak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. At first, the business only supplied local seeds to farmers in the region. Now, in addition to supplying hybrid vegetable seeds, KSC also sells pesticides, fertilisers and low plastic tunnel materials. KSC has a 35% market share in the cucumber seeds market of Akora Khattak.

Akora Khattak – in Nowshera district – provides the right climatic conditions for vegetable production. The landholdings in the area are small and landlords mostly lease out their land to small and/or landless farmers who pay the lease, incur all production costs and retain the profits from farming that land. Cucumber is the key cash crop in this vegetable belt. Farmers here enjoy a competitive edge over other farmers as their produce reaches the market when there is no competition from other parts of the country, resulting in higher prices.

However, yields in this area are as low as 15-20 tons per acre compared to 60-70 tons per acre in Punjab, where farmers use plastic tunnels and better seed varieties for cucumber production. In Akora Khattak, there is a lack of awareness on the benefits of seed varieties and techniques, such as vertical farming. Farmers in the area were using the land inefficiently and thus producing lower yields and vegetables of lower quality.

MDF partnered with KSC to increase the productivity of small cucumber farmers by providing them with information on vertical farming.

In order to increase the adoption of vertical farming, an extension program was developed, and demonstration farms were established for information dissemination to cucumber farmers.

MDF also supported KSC in engaging a technical adviser to train field officers, who would then disseminate information on best practices for vertical farming to farmers. Furthermore, MDF assisted the partner to develop a video to disseminate information to other farmers. The video covered the different stages of plant growth during the season to spread information on best practices to farmers.

As a result of better yields and improved quality of produce, farmers sold more at higher prices, thereby benefitting from increased incomes. This also led to better utilisation of land and increased production of a better-quality crop, resulting in an increase in farmers’ profitability.

The increase of plant population per unit area also increased the quantity of seed, fertiliser and pesticides used and resulted in increasing profitability of KSC. This resulted in other business input companies in the area reaching out to KSC farmers to adopt improved practices. Farmers hired more labour on-farm, leading to increased jobs.

Click on the button below to down the entire Stories of Significant Change: Khattak Seeds Company article.

Day in the Life of an MDF Business Adviser – Amna Shahid

Watch this short video and spend a day with Amna Shahid from MDF’s Pakistan’s team. Amna is based in Lahore and works in the Dairy and Meat sector of Market Development Facility.

Amna’s role includes actively seeking out partnerships with the private sector for pro-poor growth, relationship building and management is a vital part of her role and then, finally assessing and monitoring the results of the intervention to see the impact of that particular intervention.

Amma’s days as a Business Adviser is not Monotonous. Her Task differ fro day-to-day making it exciting and challenging for her.

Click on the button below to watch Day in the Life of an MDF Business Adviser: Amna Shahid

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