Meet our member: Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation
Working alongside our members to feed the world. Sustainably.
SRP, together with our members and partners, is dedicated to transforming the global rice sector throughout the entire value chain for a healthier, more inclusive and sustainable future. In this interview series we ask SRP members and partners why they joined SRP, the main trends and developments they see in the industry, as well as their vision for the sector.
In this interview Shahrukh Khan, National Coordinator Pakistan at Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, Pakistan shares Helvetas’ mission and vision related to sustainability and the rice sector as well as details and views about Helvetas engagement with SRP.
Company: Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation
Contact: Shahrukh Khan, National Coordinator Pakistan
Member since: 2019
1. Tell us about your organization, your mission, and why sustainability is important for you?
Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation Pakistan is a Swiss INGO working in Pakistan since 1982. Helvetas’ mission is to help disadvantaged men, women, and communities through inclusive programs across a range of critical thematic areas like climate change and agriculture.
Helvetas is concerned about a brighter future for these communities and hence a focus on sustainable development is a core value. Sustainability allows us to inculcate in communities’ capacities that help them develop resilience against economic shocks and lead dignified lives. Some of our key areas of intervention are sustainable agriculture and climate change. Given today’s context these are areas that directly impact people’s lives. The poorest more than anybody else. We strive to develop sustainable systems for the poor to flourish in the face of adverse events.
Our vision for the future is to build strong and resilient communities that can flourish and support themselves.
2. Tell us about your experience as an SRP member. When and why did you decide to join SRP?
Being a member of the SRP is a privilege. Helvetas joined the SRP because of a shared vision and mission to promote sustainability in the rice sector. Helvetas had been working on water productivity in the rice value chain. SRP standards formed a key part of the strategy to improve water productivity in Pakistan’s rice sector hence the membership was a natural step. The relationship with SRP has been very conducive. Our vison and agendas for a sustainable future for rice are aligned and that helps us work together in furthering them. Our aligned objectives help us compliment efforts that we make towards our goals. The membership is not only a network but also a support system helping us advocate sustainability in the rice sector in context of improving farmers incomes, promoting resource efficiency, and building resilience against climate change.
3. What opportunities do you see for your organization and your value chain stakeholders by being part of the SRP membership?
The SRP is a diverse forum brining together multiple stakeholders that can benefit from each other. SRP membership allows us to access knowledge networks and explore partnerships through which we can promote our sustainability agenda for the rice sector. Being an SRP member gives us the opportunity to connect local rice value chain stakeholders with international stakeholders for experience sharing, knowledge exchange and forging partnerships.
SRP gives us credibility and authenticity in taking forward our vision for a sustainable rice sector. The SRP platform provides immense opportunities for local private sector players in the rice value chain to network and explore sustainable business opportunities in international markets and benefit from international expertise. The SRP platform allows for multistakeholder partnerships to flourish and in context of Pakistan we aim to bridge the gap between the public sector policy landscape and private sector requirements through this forum.
4. Tell us about your initiatives/projects related to SRP and your involvement with SRP.
The Water Productivity project funded by the SDC is being implemented in Pakistan since 2015. SRP standards form a key component of our sustainability approach for the project. Apart from this we have been working on improving decent working conditions for female transplanting labor on rice farms as well as developing GHG reduction strategies from rice fields. SRP is not directly involved in these initiatives, but they are a valuable support partner.
5. Have there been challenges implementing SRP in your organization? If so, what challenges have you faced?
We are not directly involved in implementing SRP. Our private sector partners (rice millers) implement the standard with their contract farmers. Helvetas is more involved in policy influencing and advocacy to create an enabling environment for the adoption and scaleup of the SRP standards. Helvetas is also establishing an SRP National Chapter in Pakistan which will be dedicated to promoting SRP standards through increasing local membership, policy advocacy and projects in partnership with international organizations with the support of SRP Secretariat.
6. Tell us about the future. What are your organization’s vision and ambition for the sustainable development of the rice sector, and how could SRP help you achieve this ambition?
Rice is one of Pakistan’s major crops. It is the second staple after wheat and an important export commodity. Pakistan is among the top 3 rice producers and exporters of the world. Sustainable rice production in the context of climate change, food security, resource efficiency and farmer livelihoods has therefore become even more important. Helvetas is dedicated to promoting sustainable rice production system in Pakistan. Helvetas is cultivating public, private, and academic partnerships both locally and internationally to promote sustainability in the rice sector. SRP is critical in helping us developing these partnerships. With SRP’s support in establishing the National Chapter for Pakistan we aim to scale up our efforts to include all players from the farm to plate in promoting a sustainable rice sector in Pakistan.
7. From your point of view, why should more companies and industry actors join SRP? Do you have any advice or recommendations for them?
SRP provides immense value for all its members in terms of mentoring, networking, and tapping national/international opportunities. SRP membership gives credibility to companies’ sustainability commitments. Not only that, SRP also provides direction to businesses wanting to adopt sustainable business practices. It is a platform local industry partners can use to channel their efforts towards sustainability. SRP membership builds consumer trust and confidence in a business’s efforts in transforming for the better. SRP membership for local organizations is also important for building an international repute if they intend to explore foreign markets.
8. What is your vision for 2025?
Individuals and businesses will have to make sustainable choices if they are to survive in the future. Sustainable has become synonymous to survival.
For more about Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation’s work, read their article “Gendered Approach to Improve Agricultural Productivity in Rice Crop“.
If you are an SRP member and would like to be part of our “Meet our Members” series, please contact Roong Tepkaew at email@example.com. We share these interviews on our website, in our newsletter and on our social media channels.