PESHAWAR: On Thursday, the United States Mission to Pakistan, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government celebrated the successful completion of a $984,000 project that provided more than 4,000 farmers’ households with alternatives to illicit crop production in the Bajaur, Khyber, Torghar, and Mohmand districts.
Director of the Embassy’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) section Mark Tervakoski, Food and Agriculture Organization representative Rebekah Bell, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Agriculture Minister Mohib Ullah Khan, and Director General of the Agriculture Extension Department Abid Kamal participated in the ceremony, says a press release.
Under this INL-funded project, Food and Agriculture Organization provided alternative livelihoods to farmers formerly engaged in or vulnerable to illicit crop cultivation. More than 4,000 farmers, including 1,200 women, received wheat, onion, corn, tomato, cucumber, and sunflower seeds; olive plants; trainings; and agriculture machinery and tools – including shovels, spray pumps, tractors, and leveling and harvesting machines– to grow high-value licit crops.
Rebekah Bell, Food and Agriculture Organization Representative for Pakistan, highlighted the cooperation under this project and said, “FAO’s partnership with INL and the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been excellent in the promotion of high value crops to create stable sources of livelihoods for the vulnerable communities in the newly merged tribal districts of KP.”
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Director Mark Tervakoski also reflected on the impact of the partnership between the US government, FAO, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government: “This project ensured farmers, vulnerable to poppy cultivation, have alternate, more lucrative, legal crop cultivation opportunities to pursue that promote a more secure and prosperous Pakistan and region.”
For more than 30 years, the United States and Pakistan have worked together to reduce the supply of poppy and other illicit drugs by increasing access to alternative livelihoods opportunities for the most vulnerable farmers of KP province. International Narcotics and Law Enforcement works in more than 90 countries to help combat crime and corruption, counter the narcotics trade, improve police institutions, and promote court systems that are fair and accountable. In order to achieve sustainable long-term solutions to the security challenges present by the illicit drug trade, INL programs build partner capacity to identify and exploit vulnerabilities at each level of the international supply chain.