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Monday, September 22, 2008


Competitiveness is of major importance in a global economy. Productivity includes innovation and technology transfer as well as cost-cutting and improved workforce skills. Geoff Quartermaine Bastin has led a team at the Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF -see link) in Islamabad working with J.E.Austin Associates (JAA) to write an in-depth study of competitiveness in Pakistan, the "State of Pakistan's Competitiveness Report 2008*. The study includes a case study of agriculture and another on women's access to finance. The study, based on World Economic Forum base rankings explains why Pakistan currently ranks 92nd out of 131 countries measured by the WEF. The Report also suggests what can be done to change things for the better. A copy can be found at the following link:

Friday, September 19, 2008


2008 has seen an enormous crisis in the wheat grain grain and flour industry in Pakistan. Geoff QB along with colleagues Sadia Sarwar and Zain Asadullah Kazmi prepared a comprehensive analysis of wheat policy, prices, supply and demand in order to cast light on what caused the crisis (government mismanagement) and what could be done to avoid the situation in future (among other things restructure the GOP official procurement system). The Discussion Paper, issued by the Competitiveness Support Fund in Islamabad is available at the following link in ,pdf format:


We've been doing some work outside our normal food industry activities - in the "dimensional stone " industry - stone used for tiles and other construction areas. This has involved looking at the activities of a quasi-government organization established to help upgrade quarries and stone cutting and polishing facilities. A lot to the value chain focused  techniques of analysis we use in the food industry are similar, and because the food industry is so complex, other industrial activities seem simple to understand by comparison. The main problems are at the quarrying end, where stone gets blasted out of the mountain instead of cur correctly. Wastage of the primary product is very high -but where have we heard that before!


You need to have the machine working! And working right! You would like it to be designed for your needs and be efficient. Innovative and well-designed machinery and related technology is essential for productivity in this highly competitive industry and in a global economy. 

I got sick of dysfunctional technology and ranted about this pet gripe on LinkedIn ( I got A LOT of answers! These knowledgeable people helped me understand what was going wrong in technology design.  I;ve written an essay about the subject based on their ideas and comments which appears on the website of the Competitiveness Support Fund at: 

Friday, August 22, 2008


Children are peeling the expensive prawns that you might eat in restaurants around the world! They work in disgusting conditions for a pittance, but you probably pay a premium price.

These pictures show the extent of the problem at the Karachi Fish Harbour (see other posts). The major haul from the Arabian Sea is prawns and these have been the bulk of the now-banned exports (of course they still go to less particular countries).

The children are probably from Bengali families who have migrated illegally to Pakistan, The Karachi Fish Harbour itself is run by the provincial government of Sindh with these peeling sheds kept by the private sector.

Photos: courtesy of Robert Lindley, Karachi, Pakistan August 2008


Karachi Fish Harbour is still filthy! Despite all our efforts to work with the local authorities, the main exit point for Pakistan’s seafood is still in a disgusting condition. Slack management, vested interests and lack of urgency to find funds mean that technical solutions proposed by ourselves and teams from other agencies including UNIDO are not being adopted. Meanwhile the photograph taken in August this year shows the current state of the Harbour. The rubbish is floating on water over which fresh fish passes to the factory in the background. So much for HACCP!

FoodWorks has been working at Karachi Fish Harbour in collaboration with Robert Lindley, an international expert on fisheries, as part of an on-going contract with the Competitiveness Support Fund. The aim of the project is to upgrade and restructure the Harbour with a special focus on re-establishing seafood exports to the EU banned last year on the grounds of lack of hygiene. It's an uphill struggle to say the least!

A full set of reports on Karachi Fish Harbour prepared by Robert Lindley with support from Geoff Q-Bastin are to be found at:

Photo: courtesy of Robert Lindley, August 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008


Geoff Quartermaine Bastin has accepted the position of Director, Asia & Pacific for Kincannon and Reed, since 1981 the premier executive search company working exclusively in the areas of agriculture, agribusiness and life sciences. Geoff will undertake this work concurrently with on-going consulting work for FoodWorks and related clients.

Greg Duerksen, President of K&R says "Kincannon & Reed recruits leaders with judgment who get results. Two things make us different: (1) our unique focus on food, agribusiness and life sciences; and (2) the experience base of our principals, each of whom has held top management positions within the industries we serve. The benefit to our clients is that we understand at a personal level, not just an intellectual level, the dynamic environment in which they operate. We also know from our own experience the huge value to stakeholders of hiring the right person.”

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Geoff Quartermaine Bastin and Usman Ahmed Khan in the CSF office celebrating the New Year; indeed not such a happy time in Pakistan. Usman is the Manager for Matching Grants of which CSF has 10 approved and more in the pipeline.