Government needs comprehensive plan to rehabilitate farming community

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations (FAO) has started distribution free of cost wheat seed, fertilisers, inputs and necessary training to flood-hit farmers across the country, said Dr Jacques Diouf, Director General FAO.During a meeting with Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal on Thursday, he said that under the scheme, FAO would provide free of cost wheat seed, fertiliser and other inputs to over 500,000 flood affected farming families in all the four provinces of Pakistan.Appreciating the assistance provided by the FAO to the flood affected farmers, Gondal said that Pakistan needs a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate the farming community. The minister proposed FAO that instead of providing free of cost wheat seed and fertiliser on the basis of per acre per family to the flood affected farmers, the organisation should increase the farm size from one acre to five acres and support 100,000 families as the government has already approved such a scheme under which it would provide free of cost wheat seed and fertiliser to the farmers having up to 12.5 acres of land.

The minister also requested the FAO to support flood-hit fishermen by providing free of cost boats in a bid to enable them to restart their livelihood. Free of cost seed and fertilisers for the sunflower may also be provided along with a similar package for wheat sowing, he opined.According to FAO’s plan, the organisation would provide free of cost wheat seed along with fertiliser to over 0.5 million farming families or over 5 million people. The FAO, would also provide free of cost vegetable seeds and fertiliser to the farmers.In addition, it also supporting an additional 2,35,000 families to help them save their livestock by providing food, medicine and shelter for the animals besides rehabilitation of 15,000 families by repairing small-scale irrigation schemes. “We are grateful to the international community for its prompt response to assist the flood affected people and agriculture ministry is here to assist, co-ordinate and support the activities for the damaged agriculture sector of the country in any capacity,” the minister said.

He said that during the recent devastating floods, Pakistan’s agriculture economy suffered estimated losses of about 3.5 billion dollars besides affecting over 20 million people. The minister added that the affected people need such a comprehensive plan for the revival of farming activities that could enable them to earn their livelihood.Dr Jacques Diouf said that his visit is meant to express solidarity with people and government of Pakistan in the aftermath of recent floods. He added that the magnitude of the flood was extremely high and the government of Pakistan promptly responded to it. He appreciated government’s plan to restructure the infrastructure damaged by the devastating floods. Dr Diouf informed that the FAO is implementing an 8 million dollars agriculture development programme for the border areas of Balochistan apart from a 34 million dollars combating rising food prices programme supported by EU.He assured the minister that the ministry’s recommendations and suggestions would be incorporated for the recovery programmes of the sector. The organisation, he added, has started distribution of wheat seed among flood affected farmers, which would benefit over 5 million people. According to FAO, an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 tons of wheat seeds were washed away by the floods and the organisation is making all-out efforts to provide seeds to the farmers – Brecorder