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November 9, 09

NEWS / Pakistani farmers get help to boost production from UN, European Union

9 November 2009 – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the European Union (EU) have partnered to provide seed and fertilizer to almost 100,000 farmers in rural Pakistan who were hit by the surge in food prices last year.
According to FAO, an additional 10 million Pakistanis were pushed into hunger as a result of the rise in food prices, bringing the total number in the South Asian nation to an estimated 46 million, or 28 per cent of the population.

While Pakistan has just produced a bumper crop of 24 million tonnes of wheat – 2 million above its nationwide requirement in food, prices remain high, especially in rural areas, where most food insecure people live.

“The food may be there, but for many, it is too expensive to buy,” FAO noted in a news release.

The EU works with both FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP) to alleviate hunger in Pakistan, funding a ?40 million operation through to June 2011.

As part of that programme, WFP is providing food assistance to nearly 600,000 farmers and labourers, while FAO helps small-scale farmers – who make up much of the country’s rural population – increase their production.

“They can’t grow enough for themselves, because the prices of inputs have gone up,” said Gamal Ahmed, FAO’s Representative in Pakistan. “That’s why we focus on providing them with seeds and fertilizer.”

Ahead of the planting season which begins this month, 97,500 farmers received agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizer from FAO.

The agency also works to ensure that productivity gains are sustainable beyond the current season, by improving irrigation and water harvesting systems, by reducing post-harvest losses, and by offering training to farmers.




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