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Good wheat harvest expected in Pakistan, despite floods

by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) March 30, 2011
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said Wednesday that Pakistan can expect a good wheat harvest despite severe flooding last year as seeds distributed to flood victims begin to ripen.

"FAO spent $54 million of international donor funding buying and distributing quality wheat seeds as part of its emergency intervention that began last August," the Rome-based UN agency said in a statement.

"Once the harvest is completed, this donation will have produced a crop worth almost $190 million in wheat flour, the main staple" and provide "enough food for half a million poor rural households," it said.

"Farmers will be able to save the seeds from this year's harvest to plant again later this year," said Daniele Donati of FAO's Emergency Operations Service.

More than 18 million people in Pakistan were affected by last summer's severe flooding, which caused extensive damage to housing, infrastructure and crops, the food agency said.

FAO received 92 million dollars (65 million euros) from donors such as Australia, Belgium and Sweden which enabled it to shore up the smallholder agricultural system in the four Pakistan provinces affected by the flooding.

The agency also said it saved almost a million livestock by supplying temporary shelter and enough de-worming tablets and dry animal feed for almost 290,000 families.

"The livestock interventions really paid off. It costs ten times more to buy a new animal, which often represent a family's lifetime savings," Donati said.

FAO is working with the government of Pakistan to priorities recovery measures for the next two years, including increasing crop, livestock, fishery and agro-forestry production as well as improving diets and nutrition.

"These core objectives will significantly reduce the vulnerability of the populations in question, improve food production and income generation, and increase affected communities' resilience to future shocks," Donati added.

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