UNDP helps Pakistan's flood affected plant seeds for new livelihoods

04 Jan 2011

Imam Bibi, 60, with her husband are starting to re-cultivate their flooded land.
(Photo: UNDP)

Islamabad - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is distributing packages of seeds and fertilizer to about 10,000 Pakistani farmers whose lands and equipment were destroyed by floods that swept across the country in 2010.

More than 1,400 flood-affected households in the Jhang and Sargodh districts of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, are each receiving 50 kilos of seed, and bags of urea-based fertilizer for more than 4,000 acres of crop plantation.

“Plantation of winter crops is critical to ensure food for the next cycle,” said Jean-Luc Stalon, UNDP Deputy Country Director. “We are providing US$550,000 to support flood-affected farmers in Punjab in planting winter crops such as wheat, barley, and oats.”

The flooding, that started in July, destroyed 270,000 acres of arable land and disrupted the crop-planting cycle in Punjab home to more than half of the country’s cultivated land, and where agriculture provides employment for two thirds of the population.

UNDP had been working with Punjab’s Department of Agriculture since 2006 to raise crop production levels in the area and had succeeded in recovering more than 120,000 acres of infertile land.

Parts of the destroyed land had been rehabilitated during the four years - through reduction of high salinity levels with application of minerals, such as gypsum, and digging of irrigation wells – leading to higher crop yields for the smallholder and subsistence farmers.

While some of this progress was set back, UNDP quickly shifted priorities in the wake of the floods to meet the urgent needs of the tens of thousands of inhabitants around the 90 villages in Jhang and Sargodh.

Among the first recipients of the seed and fertilizer package was Imam Bibi, a 60-year-old of Hindu Wan village, whose half-acre of paddy field, two hens and goat were washed away in the floods.

With her husband too elderly and frail to bring an income for their small two-room house, Bibi plans to re-cultivate her land and will also receive a livestock package including two goats.

“This farming package comes as a blessing at this dismal time,” said Bibi. “I am looking forward to a good wheat harvest in six months.”