FAO Marks Emergency Response Plan Completion

Islamabad ( VOM ): Under the Project ‘Livelihood and Food Security Improvement Fund for the Flood Affected Areas of Pakistan’ funded by USAID, Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO), provided Rabi assistance packages to the most vulnerable farmers. These packages included certified wheat seed bags and fertilizers (UREA and DAP). A total of 65,115 households, including women headed households, were provided assistance in all four provinces of Pakistan.
An event was held at National Agriculture Research Council (NARC) on Thursday to mark the completion of the Flood Emergency Response Plan. Ambassador Donald Blome, Embassy of United States of America, Pakistan was the chief guest while Mr. Zafar Hassan, Federal Secretary for Ministry of Food Security and Research spoke on behalf of the Ministry.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Florence Rolle, FAO Representative in Pakistan) said that Flood Emergency Response Plan; including selection of beneficiaries, procurement and distribution was completed in a record time of two months that is a huge achievement for FAO.  Ms. Florence said that we faced many challenges, but with strong collaboration with all stakeholders including government agriculture departments, smallholder farms, USAID, all suppliers and vendors, the emergency response plan was completed in time. This is an example of how stronger collaborations can help in the development of the agriculture sector in Pakistan. She thanked USAID and also other donors like EU, ECHO, JICA, and Japan for helping in executing the emergency response plan. She said that there is still need to do more and hoped that the event will result in more synergies and collaborations.
H.E Ambassador Donald Blome expressed concern on the immense loss of life, livestock and infrastructure and said that this has been an extraordinarily difficult year for Pakistan. He further added that USA is very proud to be a part of the rehabilitation process of flood affectees. Apart from that, USA has a long history of helping Pakistan in agriculture development in the form of green revolution, improving agricultural lands, water management, and upgradation of agricultural universities, irrigation systems restoration, and water storage platforms. USA has also played a major role in the electrification of Pakistan. The Ambassador said that together both the countries have accomplished so much and he hopes to continue that. USA will continue to help Pakistan under the Green Alliance Framework with renewed focus on the nexus of water, agriculture and energy. To achieve that USA will facilitate public and private investments. He appreciated Pakistan’s commitment to making required changes to face the challenges of climate change to build a sustainable future.
Mr. Zafar Hassan, Secretary National Food Security and Research, said that Pakistan has experienced the worst floods in its history. The country has faced economic loss of around USD 30 billion. The year has not been good for the agriculture sector. He said that the government is grateful to FAO and USAID for their support and assistance but added that we cannot always look up to donor agencies for help. The COP27 conference was a major breakthrough in pushing for global financing for calamities. However, he said that we can only survive if we work on self-reliance and self-sustainability. Mr. Zafar emphasized on promoting better ways of agriculture, producing better seeds, and providing better education for farmers. He congratulated Ms. Florence Rolle for leading the efforts of relief assistance and making it a success story.
Eight beneficiary farmers (two from each province) were also invited to the event. They shared their account of the losses and challenges they faced during and after the floods. They appreciated the provision of assistance packages which saved them from borrowing more money for purchase of wheat seeds and fertilizers. They said that the use of fertilizers will increase crop production and allow them to put food on their tables for almost a year.
In the end a field demonstration was arranged to show the American Ambassador the traditional methods of sowing practiced by majority of the farmers in Pakistan, while climate smart agriculture technologies developed at NARC were also shown to motivate the farmers to adopt latest techniques and technologies.
Dr. Ghulam Mohammad Ali, Chairman Pakistan Agriculture Research Council , Dr. Shahzad Asad, Director General NARC, senior government officials, donors and media representatives also participated in the event.