FAO in Pakistan

From Despair to Prosperity

The FAO Support for the Recovery of Agriculture Based Livelihoods of Vulnerable Farmers Affected by 2012 Floods of Sindh and Balochistan Provinces in Pakistan Project helps a farmer start growing crops on his fields again, inspires to start new businesses

Today, 28 year old Qurban Allies Sadam Hussain Khosa is a successful small entrepreneur with a diversified portfolio of businesses which include crop farming, teahouse and a small shop.  “It’s all been possible because of the support that FAO and CPD provided to me in the hour of need,” says Qurban.

This young man is one of 12,000 farmers who received wheat seed from the FAO Support for the Recovery of Agricultural Based Livelihood of Vulnerable Farmers Affected by Flood 2012 in Baluchistan and Sindh Provinces of Pakistan Project funded by UK Aid.

Qurban lives with his wife and two school-age children in Qadir Buxkhosa Village, Band Manik Union Council of Jaffarabad District, Balochistan Province of Pakistan. The family got by comfortably on the income from wheat and rice Qurban grew on an 8-acre plot of land he had inherited from his father.

Their peaceful living was torn apart in the summer of 2012 when Jaffarabad District got hit by floods after an exceptionally heavy bout of monsoon rains. The entire area was submerged in water, and thousands of families were forced to flee from their homes. Houses, water canals, livestock and thousands of acres of standing crops perished. “We lost everything,” says 28 year old farmer. 

After their house collapsed, Qurban and his family moved to a refugee camp in Dera Murad Jamali.  “We stayed under the open sky,” says Qurban. “There was no school for my children, and diseases were rampant,” says Qurban. After a week, the family ran out of their savings and faced starvation. “It was a very cruel time for us,” he adds, and the memories of the hardship cloud his eyes.

After a while, Qurban found a job as a waiter in a local hotel. The wage barely paid for flour and other basic necessities, but Qurban was happy to keep his family from starving.

When the floods receded, the family headed home, only to find their once fertile land buried under a thick layer of mud. Rabbi (winter crop) season was fast approaching, but with no money left, Qurban had no idea how he was going to plant his land. “Earlier that spring, I had spent 50,000 Rupees (US$500) for seed, fertilizer, land leveling and other inputs. The flood wiped it all out, leaving me unable to start over,” says Qurban. “My friends and relatives were dealing with the same problems and could not offer any help.”

A ray of hope arrived when FAO and its local implementing partner CPD came to Qadir Bux Khosa Village.  With funding from the UK Aid, FAO and CPD were launching a project to help farmers affected by the 2012 flood. Qurban was identified as eligible for assistance and received a package of seeds and fertilizer for one acre plot of land: 50 kilograms of quality wheat seed, 50 kilograms each of DAP and Urea fertilizer, and 0.5 kilogram of vegetable seeds. “It was like a miracle for me,” says the farmer.

Once he had the seeds and fertilizer, Qurban was able to secure a small loan and hire a tractor to prepare one acre of land for sowing. “The loan interest rate was very high, but I could not afford to decline it,” says the man. He also used the FAO vegetable seeds to plant a vegetable garden. “I did not want to lose any chance to earn income,” explains Qurban. He was also eager to attend the FAO training course on crop husbandry, management of finances and preparedness for natural disasters. Once the seeds were in the soil, Qurban continued to apply the knowledge from the training to make sure that his crop grew well. 

“I was extremely happy when the harvest time came,” says Qurban, impressed that his one-acre plot produced 1,600 kilograms of wheat, more than ever before.

The wheat sold for 48,000 Rupees (US$480). Quarban used the money to repay his loan and to plant spring crops on his 8 acres of land.  “For the first time ever, I did not have to buy seed on credit,” says the man.

Additionally, Qurban invested his income in new businesses. First, he opened a small teahouse. A few months later, Qurban had enough money saved to add a small shop, and was now earning 500-800 Rupees (US$5-US$8) a day from the two businesses.  “Each day, my revenues keep growing, and I no longer have to worry about our future,” says Qurban. “Life is much more comfortable now, and my children attend school once again.”