ISLAMABAD - The United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) Firms Project has successfully trained 449 peach farm SMEs in Swat under a $600,000 revitalisation programme that aims to develop these SMEs and facilitate them in gaining access to greater revenues and market linkages; and make overall infrastructure improvements to strengthen the sector.Swat relies heavily on the horticulture sector with 67 percent of the total peaches produced in Pakistan coming from Swat. In recent years however, calamities have wreaked havoc on agriculture, affecting sales and jobs in the region. The main constraints to growth include lack of infrastructure, poor access to inputs, market linkages, credit facilities, untrained workforce, and poor management practices affecting the quality and yield of the produce.USAID's assistance to the peach sector includes trainings, infrastructure, supplies, technical support, tools, and certifications for peach farm SMEs of Swat, under a cost sharing agreement. 449 peach farm SMEs that signed agreements with USAID Firms Project earlier this month received pre and post harvest trainings as part of the capacity building component of this assistance. 150 SMEs have received in-kind support in the form of pruning kits, harvesting kits, and corrugated cartons. Distribution to the remaining 299 will finish by the end of July. The tools and equipment will help ensure minimum damage to fruit during harvest, thereby reducing losses to the growers. To coordinate the effort, cluster leaders have been appointed who ensure a smooth flow of operations with farm SMEs. Together these interventions will help peach farm SMEs in adopting best management practices and peach farming techniques, attaining larger scale production, increasing yield, and tapping into competitive new markets. Atta Ullah, a local peach grower from Swat said, "These pruning and harvesting kits and all the other assistance from USAID will benefit the smaller farms and increase the revenue for these SMEs by 10 percent." Another grower explained "We have learnt so many things we can do better. The training brings new management practices to us and is helping us access gains which were not possible before".