FAO in Pakistan

“Finally, the day is here! I’m harvesting my wheat crop! Every farmer waits for this day to collect the golden wheat from their fields. We are anxious throughout the cultivation period, at times for water and at other times praying that it does not rain at the time of harvest. We are worried that [the rain] may damage our crop,” says Yar Muhammad cheerfully.

Forty-seven-year old Yar Muhammad, father of six daughters and four sons, returned to Bara Khyber District in 2016. He spent nearly a decade in Jalozai camp located in Nowshera District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “Who likes living in a camp with their entire family, waiting for others to feed them? We had left everything behind and were not certain whether we will ever be able to return to our homes,” says Yar Muhammad.

Yar Muhammad used to cultivate vast area of land all by himself before the situation compelled him to leave his fields behind. “We used to grow our own vegetables. Everything we ate came from our own fields – we did not buy anything from the markets. Times have changed now. Even when I was leaving my home, I was aware that if we do return, not everything will be the same and I was right. Upon our return, the agriculture field had turned into barren land, irrigation canals were filled with sand. Yet, I did not lose hope,” says Yar Muhammad.

Yar Muhammad was elated that all the displaced people started receiving support soon after their return. “I received agriculture packages, mainly wheat. I was very happy to cultivate my land again. Walking in their fields and irrigating their land would make any farmer’s day as it did mine.”

According to the farmers, the secret of high yield was the increased number of tillers per plant. Yar Muhammad got a good yield of 600 kg/acre from FAO provided certified wheat seed as compared to the 350 kg/acre yield from last year. He says, “now I will not have to buy wheat flour from the market. I have my family to feed, this produce will be for our domestic consumption. Now that the wheat is being harvested, I will have fodder for my livestock too. I will also store some wheat seed for the next cultivation period. ”.

Under the USAID-funded “Restoring Subsistence and Commercial Agriculture in FATA” project, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations aims to boost agricultural productivity through the provision of quality inputs, reclamation of uncultivated lands and introduction of innovations to improve livelihoods of the targeted families and make them food secure all year round. It also emphasizes on assisting farmers in need to restore their agriculture-based livelihoods, increase incomes and revitalize economic opportunities in the area.