PESHAWAR: The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is distributing Kharif crop packages to 16,000 vulnerable households to strengthen agriculture-based livelihoods in the merged tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Under a similar intervention, the United States Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (US-INL) is supporting distribution of Kharif crop packages amongst 2,000 people to help these communities resume agricultural production.

The packages consist of 25 kilograms of certified maize seeds, 1.5 kilograms of sunflower seeds, five kilograms of red beans and 10 kilograms of French beans for each household, says a press relase. The distribution is being conducted in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and District Administration and in strict compliance with the COVID-19 prevention protocols.

With the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affecting the farming community, the FAO is stepping up efforts to protect livelihoods of food producers and all food chain workers by providing quality agri-input packages to beneficiaries so that the season bound agriculture activities are not disrupted. Through its interventions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s newly merged districts, the FAO has introduced high value crops and agriculture value chains to create sustainable livelihoods for the farmers.

“This intervention has been timely in providing support to smallholder farmers in these vulnerable areas, helping build sustainable food system and ensuring food security to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on agriculture. Providing farmers with a mix of high quality certified seeds such as maize, sunflower and beans for the Kharif season crop will also contribute to ensuring some dietary diversification as well as supply to keep markets and food supply chains going,” said Mina Dowlatchahi, FAO Representative in Pakistan.

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the FAO projects are playing a vital role in ensuring food security, reducing poverty and bringing economic stabilization in the newly merged districts. In addition to distribution of various agriculture packages to vulnerable smallholder farmers, FAO through its farmer field schools and field training activities is also arranging regular sessions for local farmer communities to raise awareness on safety and hygiene measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.