The Apples of Balochistan

Apple is one of the major contributors to the agricultural economy of Balochistan Province. Apple accounts for 52% of the total fruits produced in the province and its traded value in 2018-19 was recorded to be about 29.4 billion PKR.

There are about 18000 people working within the apple value chain in Balochistan. This includes actors involved in production through transport to marketing and selling them to various markets in the province. The PAFAID initiative aims to pilot improved practices among value chain actors in the five major apple producing districts including Quetta, Killah Saifullah, Killah Abdullah, Pishin and Kalat. In the inception phase of the project, populations of the various value chain actors / components including farmers, middlemen, retailers (and wholesalers) and cold storage facilities were estimated with the support of agricultural extension officers and a proportional sample was drawn for a baseline survey. The following visualization shows the geographical spread of the various value chain actors reached in PAFAID’s initial survey.

Geographical distribution of Apple Value Chain Actors

Source: PAFAID Survey

Cold Storages

Anecdotal evidence suggests that women and youth are actively involved in the apple value chain, however, they very often remain economically excluded or do not earn the same wage as their male colleagues. The Global Wage Report 2018/2019 of ILO also found women in Pakistan constitute 90% of the bottom 1% of wage earners in the country. The report also highlights the wage and gender wage gap situation in Pakistan. According to the report, Pakistan has the second highest overall hourly average (mean) gender pay gap of the 73 countries for which comparable data are available. In particular the gender pay gap for Pakistan was identified to be 34 per cent, which is more than double the global average.

Different varieties of apples (including Kaja, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious) are produced in 5 selected districts of Balochistan.

Apple farmers are also threatened by climate change, the biggest challenge of our time. According to a report by UNDP Pakistan, many regions of the province are experiencing drought since 2013 due to lower precipitations rates (which is one fourth of the usual rainfall i.e. 200-250 mm). Lower precipitation levels and resulting large scale pumping of groundwater have also led to a steep decline in water tables particularly in Pishin and Killah Saifullah, two major apple growing districts.

Due to lack of resources and access to extension services, Pishin and Killa Saifullah were found to have suffered a loss of approximately 40% in apple production.

Climate change causes extreme weather events like flood or intense drought across districts in Balochistan. The districts impacted by drought and targeted by the PAFAID project have been labeled and highlighted.

Various value chain actors, particularly farmers also lack the required technologies and technical know-how on adequate on-farm practices to maximize their own revenue and improve their own livelihood. Lack of resources and training often results in additional losses in the post harvest phase.

At this stage, apples from Balochistan are mostly sold in local markets with less than 1% apples being marketed abroad. In the local markets, commission agents are playing an important role to move products to larger Pakistani cities. Data from PAFAID’s initial survey also analyzes the location of the commission agents to whom the apples from the five selected districts are sold.