Trade Related Technical Assistance Program

Empowering People

Nouman Aslam

Nauman, who currently leads the Commercial Section at the Embassy of Pakistan in Argentina, graduated with honours and an MBA from Peshawar University in 1990.

Ultimately, he wanted to contribute to the development of his native country. Therefore, in 1998, Nauman joined the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), where over a 15-year period he visited over 25 countries on official assignments. While in TDAP he got, in 2004, a full time World Bank scholarship for a Master's Degree from World Trade Institute (WTI) University of Bern, Switzerland

Once back in Pakistan, Nauman soon realized that the normal work environment limited his capacity tocontribute towards the development of his country.

He worked with both public and private sector organizations, including the Lahore Chamber of Commerce, the Knitwear Training Institute, the Directorate of Taxation, the U.S Trade Project, and finally the Pakistan Institute of Trade and Development (PITAD), which offered tailored courses for civil servants and businesses.

Through this work, Nauman came across the EU funded Trade Related Technical Assistance (TRTA II) Programme where he became one of fifteen Master Trainers tasked to develop training modules at International Trade Centre (ITC), including "Trade in Agriculture" and "TRIPS".

Once back in Pakistan, he also prepared two studies for ITC,analysing dairy and livestock sectors in Pakistan.

"Working in Geneva was a once in a lifetime experience. As a Master Trainer, I developed the methodology and training modules under the supervision of the world's best academics. This not only enhanced my own knowledge and skills, but also enhanced my analytical and teaching abilities."

So in addition to the Master's Degree in International Law & Economics from WTI, Nauman also acquired a Master Trainer certificate from ITC which allowed him to make successful headway in global development. While working for the Embassy of Pakistan in Argentina, his professional horizons extend beyond borders to Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chile. "I travel throughout the region and get direct exposure to different cultural and economic realities. I am directly handling important trade issues and using the skills and knowledge I developed in the past. Now I am comfortably managing all aspects of my professional life and can determine my own actions. This has given me a chance to contribute to the benefit of my country."

PITAD, now, through these WTI accredited courses and the pool of Master Trainers, has the capacity to further train a wider group of officials, both within the public sector and more importantly amongst the private sector enterprises as well.

Aaron Haroon Rashid

Haroon knows only too well the pitfalls of being an artist in a society that generally frowns upon a career based on music and the arts. The market is small, competition is tough and everyone fights jealously for the little revenue there is to be had.

Haroon's career has spanned many realms. He has reached the top of the charts as a musician and composer and has recently won a Peabody Award for creating the internationally acclaimed female superhero, 'Burka Avenger'.

He was also the brains behind – a groundbreaking website that seeks to reconnect Pakistani musicians with the fruits of their labours – which is at once a music portal and one of the first salvos in Pakistan's battle with intellectual property rights.

"Protecting intellectual property is essential to creating an environment where creativity and invention can flourish; it fuels progress and leads to economic development," he says, voicing the frustrations of many musicians and performers who have left Pakistan for greener pastures.

In his own words, the main aims of are "[to] promote the incredible talent coming out of Pakistan, discourage piracy and provide artists an opportunity to earn money from their own content".

Over 1,500 local artists have already signed up and their

music is available, fully licensed and accessible via their website and mobile app.

There aren't many credit card holders in Pakistan so getting people to pay for music over the Internet has been a challenge. However, Haroon and his team have come up with a system whereby mobile phone users can pay for content through their phone bill. At 70 percent of the revenue goes to the artist, all while retaining exclusive rights to their music.It's a deal few record companies would be willing to offer.“It's an effort to bring our music back online and social media seems to be the most useful tool to do that,” he says.

"In my travels around the world, I've seen various systems in place that protect the rights of artists, but this is not the case in Pakistan." Haroon is among several established artists who now work with the International Property Organization of Pakistan, which is supported by the EU funded TRTA II programme to help set up the country's first non-profit royalty collection agency.

With IPO-Pakistan now strengthened, trade mark documentation digitized and the process of registering patents computerized, artists like Haroon will find a more conducive environment to protect the copyrights for their music and reap maximum benefits from their creations.

Tariq Mahmood Anjum

Tariq has been working in a factory at Sialkot that produces protective clothing for the last 15 years. He started work as a helper, and worked his way up to Production Supervisor for the gloves and boots stitching lines.

He was not enjoying his success however. The low salary and tight schedules made it difficult to meet the desired product quality levels, to have time for himself and his family, or even to meet their basic needs.

As the Production Supervisor, Tariq is responsible for managing everything from planning and control to production.

Despite Tariq's efforts to produce better products within the scheduled delivery times, most of the time the quality of the products was not up to the mark, and the deliveries were often delayed. This caused him further stress, and he had to make the required desperate efforts.

This was when Tariq was first introduced to the EU funded TRTA II programme's team. They explained the principle of process control and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) intervention and asked for his cooperation in identifying the problems. Already stressed by his workload, Tariq was initially reluctant to fully cooperate. But as soon as the TRTA II team started working on the shop floor, Tariq became very excited.

He told them how demotivated he and his production team were, due to shortages of operators on the stitching lines. To this, the TRTA II team responded by helping him increase productivity so that the stitching line he supervised could achieve their deliverable on time with 43% fewer operators. He put the spare operators to work in other production lines which were facing operator shortages.

The performance gaps were explained to the top management and they decided to increase the salary of Tariq and his production line operators by 35% of the savings achieved as a result of the increased labour productivity and product quality.

A delighted Tariq declared: "It was a great pleasure and fortune for me to work with TRTA II. Now I have overcome my weaknesses and am confident we can meet the expectations of my organization. My team and I are deeply motivated and our sense of loyalty to the company has greatly increased. I am even able to finally enjoy holidays with my family in nice places with increased salary and am no longer worried about problems associated with the production line."

Following the dissemination of the CSR and process control management techniques, more businesses are adopting these procedures to improve productivity, achieve the CE marking and to enhance their market access.

Farid Khan Khakwani

Farid inherited his father's single-mindedness and enthusiasm for mangoes. After completing his tertiary education from the U.K., he devoted himself to applying the best practices in his own farm in Multan. He has since acquired certification in Good Agriculture Practices, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Standards, which he hopes will help him conquer the market.

Farid also invested enthusiastically. His first major investment was in the packing facility, new infrastructure and equipment that would improve his productivity and improve the return on investment.

For years however, he saw little improvement in the balance sheets. After some time he began to wonder if indeed the villagers were right, if there was no future in growing mangoes.

Then one day Farid heard about the EU funded TRTA II Programme. Members of the association of mango growers told him that their experts were looking to organize mango producers in the district. He decided to try them.

The result of the first meeting was interesting. The experts did not recommend further investments for his farm. Instead they recommended he should step backward and examine his production operations critically, and they taught him how to tweak each aspect of his production stages.

The experts told him: "You have been bleeding internally and losing control of your management".

A year later, having followed the advice of the TRTA II Experts, Farid finally began to notice his balance sheets improve.

The experts had simply taught him to recognize the challenges of farming and the management of his farm operations in a critical manner. His first challenge was to increase profitability without investing more money. The most important advice he received was how to build connections with the market operators in ways he had not previously conceived.

Farid had no qualms about meeting foreign retailers/buyers. With the help of the TRTA II he learned how to negotiate more effectively with buyers. Today Farid is a more confident Mango producer and exporter. He has since established linkages with ASDA/Walmart in U.K. and ECONSAVE in Malaysia through a consortium of mango growers developed under the auspices of TRTA II. He has become an established expert himself and now advises his network of farmers. And as he continues to apply the advice of the TRTA II experts, his fellow villagers are now trying to emulate his work on their farms.

Through this consortium, under the leadership of Farid, the mango producers and exporters have further developed linkages with high-end markets in Southeast Asia, the Gulf States and North America.

Hina Mukhtar

Hina Mukhtar always wanted to help improve public health. She is particularly interested in food safety and nutrition, a rapidly emerging profession in Pakistan andvery vital to public health.

The opportunity came when she was accepted as a student in the department of 'Food Science and Human Nutrition' at the Lahore University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS).

As she was pursuing her M. Phil. in Food Safety and Quality Management, she also had the opportunity to become part of EU funded TRTA II's initiative to support UVAS. The aim was to improve the food inspection system by launching an internationally recognized Post Graduate Diploma Course in Food Safety & Controls, accredited by the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS), UK.

Hina has since graduated from this course, and is now further enhancing her qualifications by pursing a postgraduate research degree in food safety.

The research program allows her to be part of the food inspection teams of the Punjab government. She has also benefited from being able to work with the latest equipment which was donated by TRTA II to the provincial food authority and UVAS.

"Such modern equipment now allows us to do our jobs with more accuracy and ensures that we can introduce

global food health and safety standards in Pakistan's retail food industry," Hina says as she inspects food items being sold at a local bakery in Lahore.

Her routine work includes checking the temperatures of frozen food items, to see if they are kept at the required low temperatures.

"The food being sold on the streets by road-side vendors is often unhealthy. Through my research I want to focus on the negative consequences of that and then warn the general public who regularly consume such food regularly”.

Hina also endeavors to encourage those who sell unhealthy food to improve their quality standards.

"When it comes to food, people think a woman can only work in the kitchen. But I am trying to break those stereotypes. I want people to understand that women can also do what men have traditionally been doing in our society – go out and work," she concludes.

Universities like UVAS, University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF), University of Karachi (UoK) and most recently the Agriculture University of Peshawar (AUP) have now taken up the mantle and continue to strengthen their curricula by developing postgraduate research based degree programmes which other 80 students, like Hina, can further benefit through gainful and respectable employment.

Chaudhry Muhammad Naseer

Chaudhry Muhammad Naseer started his Kinnow mandarin processing plant in Sargodha with 300 workers. Today he has been able to expand his team to 700 skilled workers. "With the help of TRTA II, we now have better quality produce and greater market access", he explains.

Naseer takes great pride in having been able to provide for more families by expanding his business. "My workers are a source of energy and happiness and their families are my responsibility. This is what keeps me working hard to do better" says Naseer. It was his family who started the business years ago, here in his hometown.

The plant-owner had been trying to export mandarins for years, but about 50% of them would be rejected due to their poor quality and packaging.

His big breakthrough came thanks to the EU funded TRTA II programme.

Naseer's workers now have illustrations in the work area, developed through TRTA II technical expertise to better guide them on how to process and package mandarins at various stages to meet international requirements and ensure quality produce.

The programme brought him and his team to Germany, where he met with buyers from various countries. The trade mission was also his first direct encounter with European buyers.

The TRTA II experts guided him on how to present his company, how to negotiate more effectively and how to build relationships with prospective clients.

TRTA II also helped him in developing a comprehensive marketing plan for his company for the next 5 years, with the objective of enhancing his exports by at least 50%. TRTA II facilitated Naseer to develop direct market linkages with high-end supermarkets in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, specially Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Previously, his Kinnow mandarins were sold in the wholesale markets and to the Pakistani diaspora. Through TRTA II interventions and support, Naseer has now managed to place his valued 'golden orange' Kinnow in an attractive box, on the shelves of high-end supermarkets in Malaysia and Singapore, like Aeon-Big, GIANT, GAYA Grocers, Village Grocers, ECONSAVE in Malaysia and Cold Storage and Sheng Siong in Singapore. Naseer's exports have since risen by 30%, because of which he is able to pay his staff better, thereby improving their lives.

TDAP and the exporters have now adopted the TRTA II strategy for marketing, branding and promotional activities to further enhance Kinnow exports from Pakistan

Syeda Mahmoona Kaukab

Mahmoona was the first member of her family to travel so far, but what she learned in Australia has helped her seed-testing laboratory become internationally accredited. "Even as a child I used to wonder how a plant could grow from a seed in a week. Now I know the science behind it from the best instructors working in advanced labs. And every day at work I apply something I learned from my study tour."

Mahmoona, who is Deputy Technical Manager in a seeds germination laboratory, was part of the team of technical staff members of the Federal Seed Certification & Registration Department that was sent to Australia by the TRTA II programme.

"I'm the first girl in my family to travel alone to a country so far," confesses the 32-year old who was born into a family that hails from Jhang but is now settled in Rawalpindi. "It was a wonderful experience for me to have the opportunity to visit such advanced labs in Australia and learn so much."

The team gained firsthand knowledge and training in seed germination techniques from qualified seed analysts at ISTA and ISO 17025 accredited laboratories.Indeed she and her colleagues from the Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department (FSC&RD) remain engaged with the seed analysts of the Tasmanian Seed Testing laboratory in Australia.

The Australian laboratory continues to help them with various aspects and intricacies of streamlining methods of documentation and record keeping requirements for laboratory management.

Having previously wondered about how some countries were so advanced in their research, Mahmoona is now able to apply what she learned in Australia back home in Islamabad. Today, Mahmoona's laboratory has been internationally recognized as meeting international seed testing standards.

Since the laboratory is now accredited, demand for its testing services has significantly increased, allowing the laboratory management to generate more income, making it possible for them to provide sustainable jobs for highly qualified scientists like Mahmoona.

Asghar Ali

For years, Asghar has been going out with a group of ten fishermen on a hila boat to catch shrimp in the waters off the Karachi shoreline.

In all, there are about 25,000 fishermen in his community, working in similar boats. Trips last from 5 to 7 days. A successful one can yield a catch of 400 kg.

In the past, improper handling meant the catch would get damaged in the wooden fish holds; in particular it tended to lose its freshness due to the low quality ice and poor hygiene conditions on board the fishing vessel. When unloading the fish at the harbour, they used wicker baskets, adding to the risk of contamination and deterioration of the catch.

As a result, Asghar and his friends were forced to sell off 60% or more of their catch as fishmeal at a low price.

"We worked day and night and couldn't even understand why our fish were always in worse condition than others" explains Asghar.

The EU funded Trade Related Technical Assistance II Programme helped change all that. The experts promoted good hygiene practices on the boats through the use of fiberglass to line the fish holds, use of plastic crates for on-board storage and off-loading of fish, availability of drinking water for the fishermen, and provision of wash

basins with an overhead water tank on board the vessels and in the local auction halls.

At the same time the Karachi auction halls were renovated by the provincial authorities to allow for quick and smooth flow of fish in controlled temperatures. Today, Asghar can sell 30% more quality fish at a better price after each trip. This has increased the income for him, his wife and their three kids by 20%.

In March 2013, the European Union reopened its markets to fish exports from Pakistan, a move which contributed to a new high of Euros 370 million in fish exports for the fiscal year 2013-2014.

Asghar and his 25,000 fellow fishermen live in communities with a population of 135,000 on the coastal islands off Karachi. Theirs has not been an easy life. "Now our lives have changed. Our families are delighted" he says.

However, they now have high hopes that the opening up of international markets and the improved way of fishing will lead to further growth of Pakistani fisheries exports. This will result in enhanced and sustained prosperity for the fishing communities along Pakistan's coastline.

Mudassar Iqbal

Mudassar has always considered himself privileged to work at the local fan factory in Gujrat; most of his friends are unemployed or find only occasional work. But when he first came to work in the plant, he was given a range of tasks, which he performed in very poor or even dangerous conditions. He was given only a scarf to protect his nose and mouth while he sprayed the toxic paint on to the fan blades and bodies.

About two years ago, Mudassar heard the owner talking with international and national experts. They were explaining that if he could achieve a CE mark he would be able to sell the fans not only in the Gulf or in African markets, but also in Europe.

Shortly afterwards renovation started and he saw a contractor installing an insulated room on the shop floor for a modern painting line. He also noticed that the experts had started to re-organize other areas of the shop floor.

Little by little, improvements were introduced. Mudassar and his workmates were told to "put your tools in order", to keep their work areas clean, to put the scrap in the designated containers, etc. Machines were moved, the fans started to be assembled more quickly, and the workers were trained to use the machines safely. "It was mainly a lot of small changes but the shop floor became a nicer place to work", he said.

Through the EU funded TRTA II programme, Mudassar is now provided with a system where blades come in a contained environment and he is guarded by a box that acts as a shield between himself and the fan. Electric

guns are used to spray paint while he is equipped with a mask and goggles. His job is to ensure that no part of the blade remains unpainted, all in a safe environment. This procedure accelerates the production of fans. Previously, 400 sets of blades were painted in 8 hours and now 3000 sets of blades are completed in 8 hours.

"Now with the mechanized system, our production has increased and I don't feel tired or sick at the end of the day," said Mudassar, pleased with the change in his daily work routine. "I go home fresh and now spend more time with my family. My children are happy because now I play with them and often take them out as I feel better".

Mudassar, who joined as an Assistant a year ago, now works as a Senior Operator at the same factory. Increase in production aside, the new method and equipment provides a hazard free environment for him. He now faces no breathing or migraine issues, something he had grown accustomed to. "I am able to work more freely now as I know I am wearing equipment that keeps me protected."

He smiles when he sees the huge consignments being dispatched for export. He hopes that he and his workmates will reap one more benefit: salary increase or bonuses.

Following the dissemination of CSR activities and process control management techniques, through the newly established knowledge center, co-funded by the Fan Exporters and Manufacturers Association, more factories are adopting these procedures to produce better fans, achieve the CE Marking and to enhance their market access.

Muhammad Saleem

"I often look at the trees on my farm and the sight brings a huge smile to my face," said Saleem, owner of a Mandarin farm in Sargodha. "A few years ago I was just an average farmer. Now I have the skills to train others and help them improve their farming methods."

When the EU funded TRTA II programme launched an opportunity for farm owners to learn modern techniques for producing better quality fruit, Saleem grabbed the chance to improve his knowledge.

Saleem is a very progressive farmer, always willing to learn new farm practices. Many farmers were reluctant to adopt the new practices suggested by the researchers, but Saleem had no such qualms.

And what he learned quickly bore fruit. "I now produce more fruit and it looks healthier." As his daughters join him for the fruit picking and he watches them play with the mandarins that have substantially increased the family's income, he beams. "With the extra money I now earn I have been able to put my daughters in a better school," Saleem says proudly.

He was the first farmer in the area to use the furrow irrigation system. As soon as he learned it would save around 40% of the water, he immediately decided to try it because all the farmers were facing a shortage of irrigation water.

Not only did that help him save water, but his trees are now also healthier and bearing more fruit.

Next Saleem invested in new tree pruning techniques, which have rejuvenated his orchard and allowed him to use fertilizers more economically

This has impressed the other farmers, who are trying to learn from the techniques he has applied.

"I managed to pass on these new techniques, and together we can better address the water shortage while improving our yields".

Thanks to his farming knowledge Saleem has proven to be the amongst all the master trainers trained by the Citrus Research Institute, Saleem is the most qualified.

As a result, he has become a point of reference in his area and is in great demand to help other farmers achieve the benefits of more economic and profitable mandarin farming methods. This is evident from the fact that farmers tend to trust their own kin and follow their advice.

Dr. Shazia Naz

Shazia's career with the MFD (Marine Fisheries Department) commenced as a laboratory technician in 2004. The MFD staff was regularly supported by the EU funded TRTA experts, who provided training and expertise to improve the inspection and testing services for the fisheries sector in Karachi.

In 2006, through the EU funded TRTA interventions, Shazia was one of the first batch of microbiologists from Pakistan to be trained overseas at ITI, Colombo (SriLanka) on laboratory procedures, record keeping and the workings of an accredited laboratory. This 10 day training included hands-on procedures of microbiological testing of food and water.

Upon her return, Shazia then applied all that she had learned from these trainings to help complete the necessary protocols that led to the accreditation of the microbiology lab of MFD by Norwegian Accreditation in 2007. This lab was the first to achieve this caliber of international recognition.

In 2008, Dr. Shazia became the first Pakistani to win the young microbiologist award presented by OXOID in the UK.

When Shazia left to attend the ceremony in London, in 2008, she remembers how proud her parents were. "My father had tears in his eyes. I can never forget my parent's faces beaming with pride. It was the happiest moment

in my life," she says.

Since then Dr. Shazia has also helped make her country proud. Today, Shazia is Director of Quality Control at the MFD. "Through the accreditation, the MFD tests are now internationally accepted. We issue health certificates in accordance with international market standards. Because of our improved credibility, we were able to reintroduce Pakistani fishery products into the European Union market, and get a 6 year ban lifted," the doctor adds.

Following a series of qualifying training sessions, Dr. Shazia has been appointed as a technical assessor on the panel of the Pakistan National Accreditation Council (PNAC).

As a result, Dr. Shazia is often called to be part of the PNAC assessment team to audit microbiology-testing laboratories, thereby supplementing her income and allowing her to meet the daily expenses of running an independent home.

Ashiq Muhammad

The winter sun warms Ashiq Muhammad as he climbs up the step ladder to the low-hanging branches of a mango tree. The first saplings of mango fruit are about to appear and like any other farm labourer, Ashiq knows that nothing ruins a good mango crop like fruit flies.

Until recently, Ashiq worked under harsh and unsafe conditions. There were no ladders and even at his advanced age, farm hands such as himself would have to physically climb trees to ward off fruit flies. It wasn't an effective method; this became clear to Pakistani farmers when they tried to export their fruit to Europe.

Fruit infected with fly larvae did not meet European standards and farms such as the one Ashiq works for lost out. They didn't just lose the chance to export their produce to bigger markets; before the introduction of modern methods, they also lost more than 40% of their harvest due to infestation.

"It's a revolution. We've learned to prune the trees and keep them shorter and more manageable. They used to be 40 to 50 feet high and it was a nightmare keeping the flies away. The illustrated good practice manual introduced by the EU funded TRTA II Programme has taught us many things that we did not know. We now hang fly catchers on the trees, which are laced with a chemical that draws all the flies towards it."

This cuts the post-harvest losses by more than half and the step- by-step instructions make it easy to follow:

"It has made us better farmers. Better mangoes make better life," he says.

Being a seasonal worker, Ashiq would have to survive on the salary he made from working not more than 3 months in a year during harvest. With seven children – four sons and three daughters – and four grandchildren to feed and clothe, he continuously had to struggle for a secure source of income.

Now he has work all year round. The Mango Research Station (MRS) employs Ashiq to train other farm hands and labourers at various farms in the area and has increased his income manifold.

"We used to live in a two-room mud house. It was tough with such a large family, but we had to manage somehow because there was no other option. Now that I can afford it, I have bought a five-bedroom house. My sons are married and have children and can now put a proper roof over their heads," Ashiq says, beaming.

He can also afford to make amends for past mistakes. "In the past, we only sent my sons to school. I regret that decision now. Now, I must send my grand-daughters to school."

Through master trainers like Ashiq, the MRS now carries out trainings through its farmer field schools at additional farms, thereby upscaling its activities to hundreds of farms.