Friday, September 24, 2010

USAID to provide $16m for flood-hit farmers

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that it will provide $16 million to support wheat planting, prevent further livestock losses and de-silt irrigation systems in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, one of the provinces most severely affected by floods.
The assistance, which will be provided through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), marks the start for the organisation’s $107 million appeal in the United Nations’ Pakistan Flood Emergency Response Plan announced in New York on Friday.

The appeal came following the worst natural disaster on record in terms of farming and production losses, the FAO said on its website on Thursday.

“With this donation we will be able to rapidly purchase inputs, especially wheat seeds and fertiliser, which should help keep production going during the all-important planting season for wheat,” said Luigi Damiani, FAO’s senior official leading the efforts in Pakistan.

The funds will cover around a quarter of the total wheat seed requirements for the Rabi planting season in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The Rabi season runs from September until late October.

Wheat a staple diet
The FAO said unless the farmers receive seeds over the next month they will not be able to plant wheat, the staple diet of rural people, for a year. Although much land has been affected by the floods and cannot be planted immediately, many farmers will still be able to plant wheat on the land that is workable.

The FAO said the money will also fund cash-for-work projects to clean and repair irrigation systems and provide women farmers with much-needed vegetable seeds to boost family nutrition. The programme will also provide supplementary feed and veterinary support for livestock to prevent disease outbreaks.

More than 160,000 households will benefit from the donation, providing food security for over 1.3 million rural farming people. The programme places special emphasis on women, female-headed households and families with children under five years old, the FAO said.

The floods have left around 10 million people vulnerable to hunger, destroying food stocks, around a quarter of standing crops in flood-stricken areas and killing more than a million heads of livestock.
The Express Tribune

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