FAO in Pakistan

Field Brings Harvest Once Again

Support for the recovery of agriculture based livelihoods of vulnerable farmers affected by 2012 floods of Sindh and Balochistan Provinces in Pakistan (OSRO/PAK/304/UK)

“I always wanted to grow sunflower, because it matures much faster than wheat, fits well into the cropping pattern, can be grown on residual moisture of paddy crop and above all, provides hard cash. But I never had enough money to try,” says Hafeezullah, one of 10,000 farmers who received sunflower seeds from a DFID-funded FAO project which was helping to rebuild rural livelihoods destroyed by floods in Kashmore and Jacobabad districts in Sindh and Jaffarabad District in Baluchistan. “It was a blessing that FAO gave me seeds for a crop that I had been dreaming about.”

Hafeezullah Jinjh, resident of Pir Jan Bajkaniin Village, Gulwali Union Council in Kashmore District of Sindh Province, led a humble life. Together with his wife, son and daughter, Hafeezullah lived in a small house made of straw and mud. While his wife took care of the children and the house, Hafeezullah earned a living for all of them by growing rice and wheat.

Their peaceful life was destroyed when after another, heavy rains inundated Pakistan in the summers of 2010, 2011 and 2012. Thousands of people died, countless families were left homeless, lost livestock and had their standing crops ruined just before the harvest. Pir Jan Bajkani Village was no exception. Torrential rains washed out the walls for many homes here and destroyed crops - including Hafeezullah’s, - spreading despair throughout the community. All Hafeezullah had left was a growing mountain of debts.

Just as he was about to lose his last hopes, Hafeezullah came to know about an FAO project that was offering support for flood affected farmers like him. Hafeezullah contacted the project and, after FAO’s local partner, ACTED NGO, verified his eligibility for assistance with the local government, joined the list of people to receive agricultural inputs. FAO provided each farmer with 2 kilograms of seeds, 50 kilograms of DAP fertilizer and 50 kilograms of Urea to plant sunflower on a one-acre plot of land. Hafeezullah also attended a training course on sunflower production technology organized by the project.

Within a couple of months, the FAO-sponsored seed produced a 320 kilogram yield for Hafeezullah. Half of it was sent to the landlord to pay for the rent, while the remaining 160 kilograms were sold for 8,800 Rupees (US88). The family used this money to fund seed and fertilizer for the next cropping season and to buy 120 kilograms of wheat for food. They also used sunflower stalks for fuel. “Finally, we had enough money to avoid taking a loan,” says Hafeezullah.

Hafeezullah plans to produce even more sunflower next year. “I will use all the lessons from the FAO  and ACTED training more stringently, so that I can have better yields, earn more income and do not have to worry about the money ever again,” says Hafeezullah.