Visiting Pakistani ag leaders discuss research, trade

Food industry visit
Sohail Yousaf, CEO of MDS Foods,
visits Food Services of America
in Spokane during the training.

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University recently conducted training for food industry executives from Pakistan to share best practices, state-of-the-art research and practical innovations as well as to encourage imports of U.S. agricultural and food products. It was the latest exchange between the South Asian country and WSU in a relationship spanning more than 60 years.

The innovative, two-week program was designed by an alliance of WSU units. The visit was funded by a Cochran Fellowship through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Services (USDA-FAS).
Expanding trade opportunities
In the rapidly expanding food industry, improvements in  infrastructure, operations and accounting procedures for retail marketing among Pakistani businesses can potentially increase the import of U.S. agricultural and food products.
 “This WSU program resulted in a platform for us to reach out to faculty, students and the U.S. food retail industry, especially the food suppliers and exporters, to further strengthen education, business and trade relations between the U.S. and Pakistan,” said Rashid Raja, USDA agricultural marketing specialist based in Islamabad, Pakistan.
“We have begun contacting some of the U.S. companies that engaged in this program to do business in Pakistan, and we hope that these person-to-person visits will result in larger business and trade opportunities,” he said.
Pakistani food industry visit
Training participants visit Hinrichs Trading Legacy
Company in Pullman, a family-owned firm that
processes, distributes and exports garbanzo beans.

“This connection with USDA-FAS, WSU and the different companies in Washington state can be a good link for us to expand our portfolio and bring more U.S. food and agricultural brands to our country,” said Sohail Yousaf, owner of Hardee’s Pakistan and CEO of MDS Foods Ltd. “We brought Hardee’s to Pakistan and are now enjoying brand recognition and market leadership.”

A leader from Naheed Supermarket of Karachi, Pakistan also participated in the training.
Longtime, international collaboration
The program planning team from WSU included Shyam Sablani, Department of Biological Systems Engineering; David Sprott, Babu John Mariadoss and Arvin Sahaym, College of Business; and Jane Payumo, Office of International Programs (IP).
“IP works to cultivate these interdisciplinary international collaborations among WSU researchers and with regional partners,” said Payumo, IP international research associate and lead for the Pakistan program.
“We are committed to nurturing cross-departmental linkages at WSU and encouraging short-term projects and training initiatives that can translate into larger projects and sustainable international partnerships,” she said. “We actively mine and analyze funding opportunities and help to connect different researchers to complement and synergize their specific interests with WSU’s overall internationalization goals.”
WSU’s relationship with Pakistan began more than 60 years ago after U.S. universities stepped up efforts to share technical assistance with developing countries. According to George A. Frykman, writing in “Creating the People’s University: Washington State University, 1890-1990,” faculty from WSU traveled to Pakistan beginning in 1951 to make recommendations regarding programs in agriculture, business, teacher training, social science and library services.