Arshad Mahmood is a small farmer. His family owns a Citrus Fruit orchard in the Sarghoda district, in Pakistan. This district is famous for the mandarin variation “kinnow”. Arshad’s family grows the Kinnow on the small four acre orchard. The annual income from the orchard has been approximately USD 800 per annum. This income has been barely sufficient for the multiple generations of his family which live together on the orchard.  In any country around the world, the small farmer suffers the same fate.  Unless he is able to improve his harvest he will be unable to achieve its maximum potential.
Although the ‘kinnow” is considered as an exotic variety of mandarin around the world, the farmers in Sarghoda often sell their fruit at lower market values. This is primarily due to the limited access to market.  Fruit has not been grown in the best of conditions and often spoils before reaching the targeted destination.  Coca-Cola Pakistan in conjunction with International Relief and Development is implementing a project in the region entitled “Support to Small Farmers’ Through Improving Their Citrus Orchards - Sargodha, Pakistan”. The aim of the project is to enable farmers to improve the quality of their fruits and meet certification requirements for food safety, sustainable production methods, worker welfare, responsible use of water, and plant propagation materials.  

  The project is aiming to enable farmers to achieve the GlobalGAP certification of their produce. This has been done by training the farmers in better farming practices as well as the inputs needed in terms of fertilizers.  “Through the project interventions, I was able to apply optimum fertilizer to my trees for the first time in my life”, declares Arshad. “The project also helped me (learn to) prune my trees to remove dead woods which spoil the fruit quality. Coca-Cola-IRD also trained me in pesticides spraying techniques and time of application for insecticide as well as fungicides”.
The farmers have already begun to see the benefits of sustainable farming practices. Both the quality and quantity of Kinnow harvested has improved. “I feel very happy and satisfied and can proudly say that this year (2013-14), I harvested a tremendously good fruit crop for the first time in my life from the same orchard”, he says. “This year not only my yield was increased by 85% over the last year’s but also the quantity of “A” grade Kinnow was also increased over the past year’s.”
Horticulture is considered to be a minor crop in Pakistan, and does not receive the needed support from the government. Small farmers have neither the means nor the support to improve their crops. The project provided both – in terms of inputs of fertilizers and pesticides as well as professionals for training and support in farms. The farmers were given on the field training and support. “During the course of implementation the project provided all agreed input, applied it under the supervision of qualified staff and also professional contractors were hired for pruning of trees and spraying of pesticides”.
The project inputs have helped Arshad and his family move forward on the track to improve their crops and their lives.  It has helped him break out of cycle which merely sufficient and presented him with a mediocre crop year in year out. The project has not only resulted in better income but has also enabled him to vision a way forward for his family.  “I planned to save some money from this year’s income to meet the expenses of my livestock as well as procurement of quality fertilizer for my next year crop,” Arshad expressed. “Now I am able to educate my daughter in a better school and can provide better living conditions to my family at home”.