Pakistan Agriculture News

FAO and UNHCR join hands on integrated homestead gardening in Balochistan

UNHCR and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are working together in district Chagai, Balochistan for introducing homestead gardens to Afghan refugees.

This collaboration will enable refugees to establish kitchen gardens which will provide them opportunities to engage in economic activities and eventually improve food security and nutrition for their families.

Highlighting the importance of this collaboration, Ms Minà Dowlatchahi said: “FAO looks forward to working with UNHCR for contributing to efforts aimed at improving food security and nutrition and stimulating income generation for the refugees and their families. As part of One UN family in Pakistan, we stand determined to play our role in making a difference in the lives of vulnerable communities through this collaboration with UNHCR.”

Mr Filippo Grandi , High Commissioner for Refugees , UNHCR appreciated the collaboration between UNHCR and FAO to help build sustainable livelihoods for Afghan refugees.

FAO will advise UNHCR on enabling afghan refugees to establish kitchen gardens in the districts, including the provision of tools, seed, irrigation kits and other essential inputs. FAO will also link UNHCR beneficiaries with the trained Government facilitators in the district. Training on enterprise and agri business development for UNHCR districts will also be conducted.

Mr Marin Din Kajdomcaj, UNHRC Head of Mission in Balochistan said that this was just the beginning of the cooperation between FAO and UNHCR and that organizations were obliged to jointly mobilize funds for follow up activities for Afghan refugees in the districts. He emphasised that the skills learnt during this training would not only be utilized by refugees in Pakistan but will also be helpful in restoring their livelihoods upon return to their homes.

In this connection, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with UNHCR also organized 5 days training on integrated homestead gardening at the FAO model vegetable kitchen garden in the Balochistan Agricultural Research and Development Centre (BARDC), Quetta.

40 men and women from FAO, district community facilitators, government of Balochistan and UNHCR staff and their implementing partner in Chagai were trained on various aspects of vegetable production including seed selection and production; seed bed preparation; sowing, irrigation, mulching; integrated pest and diseases management; fertilizer application; nutritional aspects of vegetables and fruits; harvesting and processing as well as the economic aspects of vegetable production.

Within the framework of the Australian Government funded Australia Balochistan Agri Business Programme (AusABBA) FAO establishes vegetable kitchen gardens in 6 districts in South West Balochistan. Fruits and vegetables are produced, poultry and goats are raised and honey is also produced on a small scale at these kitchen gardens.

Adopting a Farmer Field School (FFS) approach on the establishment and operation of these gardens FAO equips women with knowledge and skills to maintain their own gardens back home in their districts. Integrated Homestead Gardening is instrumental in increasing rural production and consumption of vegetables and fruits and to enhance the nutritional status of mothers and children in the villages.  A marketable surplus as a result of these activities helps generate income for the women.