Big push for the rural economy in Pakistan

Project Active from to State Effectiveness and State

Approximately 42% of the labour force is employed in the agricultural sector in Pakistan. In the southern districts of Punjab, around 80% of the population lives in rural areas, 50-70% of whom are employed in the agriculture, livestock, or related sectors. However, years of low productivity and output growth rate have plagued these sectors, threatening the livelihoods of poor rural households.

To combat this issue, Punjab Government’s Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF), in collaboration with Department for International Development (DfID), initiated the Big Push for the Rural Economy (BPRE) scheme in 2016. This ‘big push’ scheme was designed to increase training value-added and productivity in the target districts1 by saturating and diffusing ‘frontier skills’ 2 and practices within village-level agriculture and livestock value chains.

From a policy standpoint, low productivity in the agriculture/livestock sectors is an important driver of poverty because a large population is still engaged in these sectors. Evidence points to large deficits and discrepancies in skills and practices between the average and progressive farmer that are hampering productivity in these areas. There is great interest among policymakers in Pakistan and globally about how to address these deficits.

The project aims to provide evidence on coordinated human capital investments across the village economy in skills upgradation using an innovative model implemented by PSDF. The aim of the evaluation is to provide national and global learning on the effectiveness of these types ‘big push’ style models. Furthermore, it will provide evidence-based recommendations for other policymakers who are looking to implement effective poverty alleviation training programs in the rural context.