FAO in Pakistan

FAO partners with USAID to introduce kitchen gardens as a food source in Balochistan under the USAID-funded FAO Balochistan Agricultural Project.

Adjusting her headscarf, Naseema bends down to pluck the tender seedlings of radish from the soil following the instruction of the trainer. Naseema is a young woman from Killa Khali Village in Quetta District of Balochistan, Pakistan, one of the women being trained by the USAID-funded FAO Balochistan Agricultural Project, to develop kitchen gar-dens.  She had never had a garden of her own before the project came into her community.

“We have learned that how to plant seeds, how to use manure, fertilizers, and water, and how to manage the growth of the plants,” says Naseema about the project support.  “For example, we’ve learned that thinning will enable the vegetables grow better and bear larger fruit,” she says proudly as she quickly measures another between the radishes, and removes all the seedlings in between. 

The USAID-funded Balochistan Agricultural Project works with multiple communities throughout the province to improve their agricultural incomes. As many women in the highly conservative Balochistan are limited in their daily activities to the space of their family compound, the project has decided to offer women a concept of kitchen gardening as an opportunity to improve family nutrition and incomes.

Along with 30 other women, every couple of weeks Naseema comes to study new gardening concepts at the model kitchen garden set up by the project in Quetta. Together, they experiment with different planting times, seed varieties, fertilizer, pest management, and planting techniques that the USAID-funded project is teaching them.  Then each of the women go back to their communities to apply the new skills in their own gardens. 

“Before, we planted all the vegetables on the same date. Now we have learned to stagger planting times so that we have vegetables throughout the season,” says Naseema. "I no longer need to buy vegetables from the market, and the nutrition of our family has improved significantly.” The project plans that over time, these women will train other families in their areas to start kitchen gardens as well.