LONDON: A leading international soft drinks company and International Relief and Development (IRD) have partnered to improve food security for small farmers in rural Pakistan, it was announced Thursday.IRD, a leading non-governmental organization that assists vulnerable populations in more than 40 countries around the world, has been active in Pakistan since 2008.More specifically, according to IRD spokesperson, the organisation has been working with internally displaced people (IDPs) forced from their homes due to fighting between the extremists and Pakistani military.When floods struck in July 2010, IRD and its network of local non-governmental organizations was able to respond quickly to provide shelter, drinking water, hygiene kits, tools, blankets, and kitchen supplies. IRD has assisted nearly 86,000 Pakistani families after the devastating floods.In partnering with IRD, Coca-Cola expands its current contributions to over a $1 million commitment for the people of Pakistan. Coca-Cola’s previous support to the Government of Pakistan and local NGOs has provided food items, bottled drinking water, bedding, tents for shelter, and assistance with the operation of medical camps.“Coca-Cola’s continued support to the flood affected areas reflects their commitment to improving the lives of the people of Pakistan,” says Sajjad Imran, IRD Pakistan Director.IRD’s current work in the Muzaffargarh district will be expanded,with Coca-Cola’s additional support, to provide small farmers with seed fertilizer, and other tools needed for the emergency rehabilitation of agriculture and livelihoods for farmers in the worst affected areas.
The recent Pakistan floods damaged close to 2.5 million hectares of fertile land. With this project, 3,500 farmers will be employed to clean and repair the irrigation channels, fix unpaved roads that connect farms to villages, and remove silt and debris that has accumulated from the floods.IRD’s CEO, Dr. Arthur Keys stated: “We are so proud to be working with Coca-Cola to improve the agricultural production of Pakistan’s small farmers in these flood affected areas. Helping rural farmers to restore their fields will bring increased hope and nutritional health to these communities, while also building a sustainable source of income – APP