Sunday, September 5, 2010

Donors' response to Pakistan agricultural needs very low: FAO

UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said that so far donor response to Pakistan's agricultural needs after the devastating flood has been very low. Only 35 percent (2 million dollars) of initial funding requirement have been met under the Pakistan Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan (PIFERP).

FAO is reaching approximately 1,50,000 families with agricultural inputs and 50,000 households with emergency livestock assistance in flood affected districts across the country. It said with additional funding of 30 million dollars FAO could assist a further 2,50,000 families with wheat seeds and help keep at least 1,00,000 families' livestock alive over the coming winter.

In its Executive Brief on Pakistan Flooding, as on September 1, 2010 FAO said approximately four out of five people in the flood affected areas depend on agriculture for their livelihood. One of the greatest challenges on the ground is helping farmers to recover their land in time for wheat planting beginning in September/October and to prevent further livestock losses.

The UN organisation said across the country millions of people their entire means to sustain themselves in the immediate and longer-term, owing to the destruction/damage of standing crops and means of agricultural production (eg seed stocks, irrigation, livestock, farmland)

The latest cumulative estimates are as follows:

(a) The agriculture cluster rapid damage assessments, completed in half of all flood-affected districts found that 1.3 million hectares of standing crops have been damaged.

(b) Countrywide damage to millions of hectares of cultivatable land, including standing crops (eg rice, maize, cotton, sugarcane, orchards and vegetables) likely.

(c) Loss of 0.5 to 06 million tons of wheat stock needed for the wheat-planting season.

(d) Death of 1.2 million large and small animals and 6 million poultry.

FAO said while the full extent of the damage still cannot be quantified and assessments are ongoing, the direct and future losses are likely to affect millions of people at household level, as well as impact national productive capacity for staple crops, such as wheat and rice. Response to needs in the agriculture sector cannot be underestimated nor delayed.

Wheat planting season: FAO said if wheat seeds, fertilisers and farming tools are not provided rapidly, many farmers will miss this year's wheat planting season, beginning in September/October and may not be able to harvest wheat again until spring 2012.

It further stated that extensive water logging, silt deposits and damage to irrigation structures mean that work must start now to clear and prepare the soil for planting and to repair water systems for upcoming planting seasons. This planting season is vital as wheat is Pakistan's main staple crop, accounts for two thirds of national cereal production (planted on 9.5 million hectors in 2009 yielding 24.5 million tons) and provides 60 percent of the carbohydrate and protein requirement for an average Pakistani.

Saving remaining livestock, FAO said it is also concerned with preventing the further loss of livestock, which represent an immediate source of food, income, draught power and very often the savings of a lifetime. Without emergency, dewormers and veterinary supplies animals will die in large numbers, it warned.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2010

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