FAO in Pakistan

A Step towards Food and Economic Security

“This small garden provides food and income for my family,” says 50-year old Fatima Waris, a beneficiary of an FAO project titled, Livelihood Restoration and Protection and Sustainable Empowerment of Vulnerable Peasant Communities in Sindh Province. Through this project, thousands of women in Sindh have taken up kitchen gardening to improve their food supply and incomes.

Kitchen gardening is a technique used by FAO to help alleviate poverty and food shortages in some of the poorest communities.  The project works in Sindh where, according to the 2011 National Nutrition Survey, less than one-third of all households are food secure, and one in six households constantly faces severe hunger.
Hunger used to be a permanent guest in Fatima’s house in the village of Adho Ghadhi, Dadu District. Fatima, her husband Muhammad, their children and grandchildren lived off livestock. But no matter how hard they worked, income was never enough to cover even the most basic needs of the family.

When the FAO project came to the village, Fatima was one of the first to sign up for its support. She became an active member of the Women Open School that the project established to teach women about kitchen gardening. She eagerly attended all weekly sessions where she learned when and how to prepare soil, plant vegetables, and many other techniques. 

To apply her new knowledge, Fatima started growing vegetables on a 700 square yards plot – all the land family had – near her house. FAO provided seeds and fertilizer to support her effort. Even though her neighbors laughed at the effort and told Fatima that it’s not a woman’s job to grow vegetables, she was adamant to succeed.
Two months later, Fatima’s garden began bearing fruit, and she started using her produce to prepare food for her seven-person family. Fatima also shared the vegetables with her neighbors who by now were praising her gardening skills.

Fatima resorted to her new knowledge once again when the community’s tube well – the source of water for her garden - broke down.  Fatima remembered alternative irrigation techniques taught by FAO and decided to dig a well. It took a lot of effort, but eventually, Fatima was drawing water from her well. To use water more economically, Fatima started watering her garden using the “plant to  plant” technique she had learned from FAO. Compared to the traditional flood irrigation approach, the new method uses much less water.

Fatima now cooks more nutritious meals for her family and supplements family income by selling surplus vegetables. “By growing our own vegetables, we spend less money on food,” says Fatima who made a total of 25,000 Rupees (US$250) by the end of the first season of kitchen gardening.  The family used this money to buy a goat and pay for daily expenses. “Our family is thankful to FAO for supporting us; it has given us a hope for a better life,” says Fatima.