In an effort to enhance household incomes, improve food security and nutritional status of men, women and youth associated with agriculture in Balochistan, two projects were inaugurated at a ceremony in Quetta today.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the government of Balochistan and with the financial support of Australian government’s Department of Foreign Aid and Trade (DFAT) will address the challenges faced by rural communities dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods in Balochistan through these projects.
Mr Mitta Khan Kakar, Advisor to Balochistan Chief Minister on Livestock and Dairy Development, Mr Brek Batley, Deputy High Commissioner of Australia to Pakistan and Ms Minà Dowlatchahi, FAO Representative in Pakistan were the key guests at the ceremony.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ms Minà Dowlatchahi said women make huge contributions to the rural economy by engaging in on and off farm activities and by looking after the household and family nutrition. Investing in women’s empowerment along with men helps eradicate poverty, improve food security and nutrition and helps achieve economic growth. She also thanked the government of Balochistan and the Australian government for their continuous support to the work of FAO in Pakistan.
Building upon its first phase, Australia Balochistan Agri Business Programme Phase II ( AusABBA II) is a 6 year partnership between Government of Australia and FAO. 175,000 male and female farmers in Chagai, Kech, Kharan, Nushki, Panjgur and Washuk districts of Southwest Balochistan benefitted from the Phase I.
In Phase II, resource-poor, male and female crop and livestock farmers will be organized in informal Farmer Marketing Collectives (FMCs) and connected to markets for Balochistan-specific commodities such as onions, fruits, livestock, wool, meat, poultry and dates. Traders, exporters, processors, wholesalers and fresh buyers of modern and traditional retail and wholesale markets will also benefit from the linkages created as a result.
The second project is strongly linked with AusABBA II, is helping empower women associated with agriculture in Balochistan by working with them and for them. 445 women have already been trained in agri-business. Women enterprise development in the agriculture sector in Balochistan will be the main focus as a result of which, 10 women agri enterprises comprising of 200 women will be able to operate their own businesses and increase their income by 25%. In addition, 400 women will receive literacy and numeracy training in Chaghai, Nushki and Quetta districts.
The project will help in the local adoption of new improved approaches, knowledge and capacities to make sustainable and long lasting impact on the lives of farmers and their families.
Mr Marcel Stallen FAO Project Manager in Balochistan, Mr Dave Preston First Secretary Development at the Australian High Commission and senior government officials were also present on the occasion.