FAO in Pakistan

Roopan took it upon herself to turn her family’s fate around. As a small-holder farmer who grows her own vegetables on a small plot of land, she is able to provide fresh food to her family each day – making a significant contribution to household savings and food security. 

However, this was not always the case. Roopan lives with her husband Tamachi, who works as a daily wage labourer, and their two daughters and three sons in the remote village of Bewato in Tharparkar District. Until a few years ago, with an unsteady income from her husband’s daily labour, Roopan and her family often struggled to make ends meet and were forced to cut down on their daily food intake. Even staple food items such as wheat flour, vegetable oil and rice were not available on most days. This had a severe impact on their household food security and nutrition status.

Preparing nutritious meals each day was a luxury our family could not afford. I could only manage to cook vegetables for my children once or twice each month, other days I had no option but to set the table with half-empty plates. Medical expenses were also piling up because of nutritional deficiencies,” recalls Roopan.

In the months that followed, a community gathering brought together female farmers from across the village where a team of experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations with support from United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) imparted basic skills and techniques which would eventually help these women farmers establish their own kitchen gardens.

Roopan saw this training opportunity as a ray of hope for herself and her family. With her husband’s unrelenting support and with new skills and knowledge acquired from the training, she was able to establish her own kitchen garden where she grew fresh seasonal vegetables for household consumption. Within a few months the household medical expenses dropped dramatically and the family was able to save up to PKR 3 000 each month.

It was then that we realized the importance of providing fresh and nutritious meals. I was able to cook fresh meals for my children every day at practically no cost,” says Roopan. “I am also planting the Kharif seasonal crop which should be ready for harvest anytime now,” she added contentedly.

In recent months, the onset of COVID-19 disrupted millions of lives and livelihoods all across Pakistan. Like many other daily wage workers, Tamachi also lost his earnings from daily labour and livestock selling due to the COVID-19 related lockdown. 

However, with her strong commitment and dedication, Roopan has been able to give a fresh start to her family amid the crisis. Her small garden is filled with an enormous amount of vegetable plants, which her family is able to eat out of during these difficult times.