27 October 2010, Rome - FAO has begun a large-scale distribution of wheat seeds in Pakistan that will benefit well over half a million farming families or nearly five million people.
The distributions will mean that for these people the current Rabi planting season that ends in December will take place despite the devastation caused by the worst flooding the country has ever known.
Making seeds available to vulnerable farming families is crucial because an estimated 500 000 to 600 000 tonnes of wheat seeds were washed away or ruined by the floods.
The food security of tens of millions of Pakistanis is at stake with the current planting season. The next harvest for wheat will not be until spring 2011. FAO is also providing beneficiaries with vegetable seeds and fertilizer.
"Wheat is the main staple of the Pakistani diet so it is of vital importance that farmers receive seeds in time. I am happy to say that thanks to the generous and timely response of donors, we are in good shape to salvage the Rabi season for millions of people," said Luigi Damiani, FAO Senior Official leading the Organization's efforts in Pakistan.
FAO's intervention in Pakistan has so far received $67.44 million in donor support within the framework of the Revised Pakistan Floods Emergency Response Plan, out of a total funding requirement of $107 million.
Thanks to the contributions of the United States of America ($46 million), the United Kingdom ($11.06 million), Canada ($5.85 million), the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission ($2.54 million), the Central Emergency Response Fund ($1.79 million) and Belgium ($200 000), FAO is able to provide agricultural inputs and other support to over half a million flood-affected households so that they are able to plant wheat during the 2010 Rabi season.
In addition, the European Union-funded Food Facility in Pakistan reallocated $3.5 million to reach additional flood-affected households with wheat, canola and vegetable seeds and fertilizer.
Assistance is also being given to an additional 235 000 families to help farmers save livestock by providing food, medicine and shelter for the animals and to almost 15 000 families to rehabilitate or repair small-scale irrigation schemes.
FAO procures all its seed in the country. It will distribute the seeds and other inputs in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh provinces.
As well as input distributions, FAO field offices in Sukkur (Sindh) and Multan (Punjab) are also providing logistical support to humanitarian partners involved in the flood response.
More than 80 percent of the victims of the devastating floods live off agriculture, making it a crucial sector for intervention for international assistance. More than 2.4 million hectares of cultivable land was damaged by the torrential waters.