Agribusiness development in Balochistan, Pakistan

FAO and the Australian government continue efforts to improve productivity and strengthen market access

08/10/2018 - 

"I’ve opened a bank account for the first time in my life using the money earned from backyard chicken farming. I now tell other women I meet to look at how this activity has changed my life." - Murad Bibi, poultry farmer and mother of 12 children, Balochistan

  • 900 women trained in poultry management
  • 708 farmers trained in vaccination
  • 70 seasonal farmer field schools opened

In 2017, FAO renewed its partnership with Australian assistance to agricultural development in Balochistan border areas through the Australia Balochistan Argibusiness (AusABBA) Programme. The initiative aims to reduce poverty and economic inequalities for some 175 000 impoverished rural people from six western border districts in Balochistan, Pakistan through sustainable agriculture development.

Livestock is a valuable asset in rural communities, especially in this province, where animal agriculture is centuries old and most of the territory consists of rangeland. Livestock also represents an important genetic resource and contributes to biodiversity and accounts for some 14 percent of Pakistan’s GDP.

In recent decades droughts have taken a heavy toll on the mostly rural province of Balochistan that borders Iran and Afghanistan—an area where low crop and livestock productivity, underdeveloped markets, food and nutrition insecurity, result in arbitrary fluctuations in income and livelihoods.

AusABBA (Phase I), which ended in June 2017, saw a significant improvement in food security and nutrition and a meaningful increase in income for 30 600 poor households in 340 rural communities in Balochistan.

The programme enhanced yields and livestock productivity, increasing the gross value of agricultural produce in the six districts by almost USD 9.24 million over its duration, introducing improved technologies and management, and community-based water management.

Murad Bibi is a livestock farmer in Balochistan, and mother of 12 children, whose family was among the rural communities participating in the AusABBA. “In two years’ time, not only did poultry provide my family with nutritious food, but it also helped me generate an income of PKR 39 500 (about USD 900) per year by selling eggs and chickens,” says Murad Bibi.

Through the programme, market linkages were successfully strengthened to increase sales of surplus and encourage the establishment of small local agribusinesses. In addition, AusABBA helped people from several adjacent community organizations form farmer’s marketing collectives. A recent study has shown that the farmer’s marketing collectives approach can increase farmer profits by up to 47 percent.

Phase II of AusABBA began in July 2017 and will run until 2020. Building on the success of Phase I, the programme will focus on training female and male farmers to help strengthen supply chains and eventually connect them with markets for Balochistan-specific commodities like onions, fruit trees, goat and sheep meat, seed, wood and dates.

Among its solid results, community development stands out as perhaps the most important achievement and is a foundation for sustainable transformation in Balochistan. “Now, we are able to provide education for our children. Even our daughters are going to school as we can afford to hire labour,” explains Bibi Zubada from Zhob District.

Major components of AusABBA II will target women’s economic empowerment. At least 25 percent of the direct and indirect project beneficiaries will be female with the aim of improving the nutritional status of the family. 

Resource partner: Australia (DFAT)

SDGs: 2, 5, 8

Regional Initiative: RIE1 - Asia and the Pacific’s Zero Hunger Challenge

Photo: Preparation of a family meal underway - Pakistan. ©FAO/Farooq Naeem