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Chili Production and Post-Harvest Handling Training

Enhancing knowledge, technology, and market linkages for Pakistan’s chili pepper value chain actors.

Context

To improve the Pakistan chili industry’s knowledge of modern chili value chain production, post-harvest handling, processing, and marketing, Dexis designed a U.S.-based training customized to the roles and needs of 16 Pakistani chili industry professionals including farmers, processors, and other industry actors. The program enhanced the participants’ knowledge of the application of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Good Drying Practices (GDP), Good Harvesting Practices (GHP), and Good Storage Practices (GSP) to include seed selection, judicious use of water and fertilization, pest management, proper post-harvest care, processing, and value addition of chilies, as well as the identification of potential markets.

Approach

The activity took place in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, New Mexico (the largest producer of chilies in the United States and home to thousands of chili-industry-related public and private value chain actors), as well as New Mexico State University (NMSU) and its Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Food Safety Lab, Chile Pepper Institute, and Agricultural Economics Faculty, which focus on chili pepper research and defining sectoral best practices. The experiential training consisted of on-site visits to area chili farmers, traders, processors, and other private-sector actors; classroom and workshop-based informational sessions at NMSU and associated entities with recognized chili researchers and academicians; and attendance at the Chile Pepper Institute’s annual New Mexico Chile Conference, “Solutions for Growers, Processors and Producers,” in February 2018. It is the largest conference worldwide and provides business linkage opportunities for participants as well as exposure to new products and marketing approaches.

Achievements

  • Participants interacted with U.S. colleagues along all aspects of the supply chain including farming, processing, marketing, and exporting.
  • Participants were introduced to a large array of chili varieties not currently available in Pakistan and were able to purchase seed of these varieties and other types of crops that are typically grown alongside peppers.
  • Technology, equipment, and testing approaches presented through speakers and site visits resulted in several Pakistani farmers stating their intention to trial drip irrigation systems to conserve water, deliver plant nutrients, control weeds, and increase yields.
  • Participants were exposed to a wide range of red and green chili-based products and use of chili powder in various packaged foods, spurring plans to pilot new products in restaurants in Pakistan.
  • Visits to four distinctly different processors (including a large-scale industrial drying and processing facility) allowed the participants to observe how facilities differ in terms of size and level of production and market segment, and how production can be scaled from specialty, niche-food products to mass-produced, ready-to-eat retail items.
  • Upon returning to Pakistan, the participants remained in contact and continued discussions with one another. One processor organized an awareness meeting on drip irrigation and contract farming in Kunri, the heart of Pakistan’s chili production region, which resulted in 15 farmers ordering drip irrigation systems and several more developing contract farming arrangements with the processor.
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