Urgent help needed for flood-hit Pakistani farmers: FAO

19:43, August 12, 2010      

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As efforts continue to save the lives of Pakistanis stricken by monsoon floodwaters, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on Thursday warned of serious threats to the livelihoods and food security of millions.

As of Thursday, 13.8 million people are reported to have been directly affected by the disaster and numbers are rising. The devastation left by flood waters in the north and center of the country may worsen as they continue to head southward, the FAO said.

One hundred percent crop losses have been recorded in many areas and tens of thousands of animals have been killed. Nearly 700,000 hectares of standing crops are under water or destroyed and in many cases surviving animals are without feed, it said.

The upcoming fall season's wheat crop is now at risk in a region that is the bread basket of the country, the UN agency warned.

"Initial assessments by FAO experts and partners from the Agriculture cluster in severely affected areas indicate that the majority of standing crops and livestock have been lost. The consequences for the local populations' food security are acute, as food prices have already started to rise sharply," said David Doolan, Senior FAO Officer, in charge of FAO programmes in Pakistan.

"Over 75 percent of the affected population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. FAO's immediate priority is to ensure that surviving livestock do not die," he added.

On Wednesday, as part of the Pakistan Initial Flood Response Plan, the FAO-led Agriculture Cluster appealed for 5.7 million U.S. dollars to kick-start time-critical livestock support activities. Livestock feed and essential veterinary supplies are urgently required to prevent animals dying of starvation or disease. Livestock's importance in the local economy is huge not only because of their role as a source of food and draught power, but also because they often represent a family's entire savings.

FAO has already mobilized 1.6 million dollars under existing projects to address immediate needs in anticipation of the coming planting season, reaching 25,000 households through distribution of agricultural inputs such as seeds, tools and fertilizers.

Ongoing needs assessments are confirming the unprecedented scale of the disaster and its severe consequences on agriculture. FAO and partners are currently working to scale up response plans and funding requirements to ensure that the urgent needs of Pakistani farmers are met on time.

Source: Xinhua


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