Team: Programs | Commitment: Consultant | Location: Pakistan

STTA: Seedless Watermelon Cultivation in Pakistan

Project Description:

The U.S.-Pakistan Partnership for Agricultural Market Development (AMD) activity in Pakistan is a USAID funded activity implemented by CNFA with the goal of supporting the development of Pakistan’s commercial agriculture, particularly through improving the ability of Pakistan’s agriculture and livestock sectors to meet both international and domestic demand and requirements in targeted product lines in citrus, mango, high value/off season vegetables and livestock. AMD envisions transforming the four targeted product lines into efficient, private sector led value chains that deliver competitive products to domestic and export markets. AMD’s targeted training, matching grants, and technical assistance will leverage private sector investment and encourage innovation. Together, these approaches will support upgrading, streamline supply chains, optimize profit margins, increase participation of women entrepreneurs, and ultimately make Pakistani mango, citrus, meat and HV/OSV more profitable and more competitive.

 

Background Information:

Over 35 kinds of vegetables are grown in various ecological zones in Pakistan. At the moment, Pakistan is exporting very limited number and quantity of vegetables mainly to GCC, some European countries and neighboring Afghanistan.  Watermelon is cultivated throughout Pakistan mostly for domestic consumption where the soil and climatic conditions are favorable for its cultivation. It prefers sandy loam soils with good drainage and a soil pH of 7.5 to 8. It cannot tolerate extremes of temperatures; low temperature affects its growth while severe higher temperatures affect the pollination process resulting in reduced yields.

Local supply of watermelons starts in April and continues till September from different areas of Pakistan. It’s high in demand during summer season leading to appreciable profit margins for farmers and traders.

Seedless watermelons are more difficult to grow as they require much higher levels of inputs and managerial skill, but in terms of prices they can command a premium of up to 200% over the larger, seeded varieties. Pakistani watermelon production calendar synchronizes well with the peak demand season in Europe which has experienced very strong growth in imports, indicating increasing demand from the watermelon producing countries, which, include China, Turkey, Iran, USA, Brazil and Albania etc. In the European market, Spain is also a major exporter. Pakistan’s easy access to GCC provides a competitive advantage for export of seedless watermelons to GCC countries. With the operationalization of Gwadar port and CPEC, exports to Europe through sea are also competitive for Pakistani producers. Additionally, no SPS requirements are in place for export of watermelons to EU, making it an easily exportable commodity. The value of watermelon imports in the EU last year (2014-15) was €485.78 million

However, despite having favorable climatic conditions for the cultivation of seedless watermelon, along with an increasing demand in international markets, limited effort has been made to produce seedless watermelon in Pakistan. The primary reasons include; unavailability of seeds, lack of production technology at the local level, and international market linkages.

The AMD project, in line with its objective of innovation, intends to support the introduction of commercial production of seedless watermelons for high end markets, through working with Pakistani private sector investors on a limited scale for trial production. The initial areas for trial production are intended to be in Sindh (Qambar, Larkana, Shehdadkot and/or adjoining areas).

Objective of the Technical Assistance

The technical assistance (TA) provided by the ISTTA is aimed at providing the technical oversight for crop husbandry of seedless watermelon to the selected farmers from land selection & preparation till harvesting and marketing of the produce. The local STTA will work closely with the ISTTA to design a complete package of technology for seedless watermelon production for the selected area/s to augment well within the existing cropping system with increased profit margins.

 

Assignment Scope:

The ISTTA tasks will include but not be limited to:

1.       Background reading of AMD Work Plan for HVOSV and published studies on watermelon and seedless watermelons’ crop husbandry, with a comparative analysis with other countries of the similar agro climate.

2.       With support from STTA, design a complete crop husbandry protocol including harvest and post-harvest practices for Seedless Watermelons.

3.       Provide regular guidance to the STTA and CTA by Skype on issues arising with selected farmers, when not on-site

4.       Instruct and mentor STTA on day to day vigilance of crop.

5.       Provide production economics to AMD and the selected farmers

6.       With assistance from the STTA design a training program for the Seedless Watermelon farmers; if needed.

7.       Comment regularly on recorded data on various agronomic crop parameters for these trials supplied by STTA and main growers

8.       Identify better paying markets for B&C category of Seedless Watermelon locally.

9.       Any other tasks assigned by the COP or Chief Technical Advisor relating to design and development of the Seedless Watermelon production interventions.

10.   Supply support to any relevant tasks within AMD initiatives at the request of CPO and/or CTA

11.   Assignment to be undertaken in 2 parts to coincide with:

a.       the ground preparation and sowing of the crop

b.       the harvesting, grading and marketing of the crop

 

Deliverables:

1.       A detailed work plan for the period of this assignment within two days after the commencement of this consultancy.

2.       Complete crop husbandry protocols for seedless watermelon.

3.       Comparative analysis of Pakistan’s specific crop growing climate and market access viz a viz other seedless watermelon producing/exporting countries.

4.       Production economics of seedless watermelons

5.       UAE Rapid Market Assessment for seedless watermelon

6.       Training program and SOPs for producing seedless watermelon

7.       Agronomic data of trials

8.       Report on remote technical support and guidance provided from home office; .5 days per week during months 3 and 4

9.       Customer Acceptance Report of trail shipments

10.   Submit a detailed report with all the above cited deliverables and recommendations within 5 days of assignment completion.

 

Estimated level of effort (LOE) for the assignment: 65 Days LOE between Mth-1 and Mth-6

 

Timing of the Assignment:

The ISTTA assignment will commence in February 2017 and end in July 2017.

First part of the assignment will begin on or about February 14th until on or about March 31st, including a 48-hour stop-over in Dubai for market appraisal.

Second part of the assignment will begin on or about June 22nd until on or about July 31st including a 48-hour stop-over in Dubai for appraisal of market acceptance.

Qualifications

  • A university degree in the field of agriculture or equivalent experience;
  • Practical knowledge of watermelon crop husbandry.
  • Extensive experience of having worked with commercial vegetable growers
  • Extensive experience in fresh vegetable value chain and marketing
  • Hands on experience in Pakistan’s agriculture sector will be an added advantage;
  • More than 10 years of professional practical experience working in the field of commercial horticulture production.
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a team;
  • Documented excellent writing skills in English
  • Oral fluency in English; knowledge of local language will be an added advantage
  • Possession of a valid visa for travel to Pakistan is an added advantage