FAO in Pakistan

Unlocking the untapped potential of date agribusiness in Balochistan


“This is the first time in about fifteen years that Lahore-based traders are purchasing our dates from Balochistan. For years dates were being sourced from Iran but now that we are producing high-quality dates locally, traders have started purchasing from us. With FAO support, we signed four agreements with different traders and companies. We have already sent our consignments of thirty-eight tons of dates to these companies in Lahore,” says Haji Mohammad Ismail, date farmer from District Washuk, Balochistan.

Balochistan is the largest producer of dates in Pakistan. The districts of Kharan, Washuk, Panjgur and Kech alone produce about 51 percent of the national total production each year. Home to beautiful date palms, the province of Balochistan is home to and exports the largest indigenous variety of dates in the region.

Farmers in Balochistan, however, are often unable to keep up with the rapidly changing national and international markets. This is due to several factors ranging from small scale production to high transaction costs that deter entry of small farmers into the market. Further, there are challenges in meeting market requirements such as quality and quantity of the consignments and the timeliness of delivery to market.

Over the years FAO has supported capacity development of date growers by providing agribusiness skills training as well as helping to improve overall skills and knowledge to better handle post-harvesting operations and understand best practices. These skills are critical to gaining access to market.

Training is a key component of FAO-supported activities. The Organization aims to provide opportunities to help farmers increase their profitability.

“Thanks to support from FAO, we are able to sell our dates in major markets at a time when our livelihoods have been severely disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are able to reach buyers by phone and have signed new contracts even during this difficult time. This new way of doing business will help us to increase date production and processing and to expand our businesses even further,” said Mohammad Ismail.