The word Pakistan literally means “Land of the Pure” and I am blessed that, through MEDA, I am able to serve the people of my native country while enjoying what life in Canada has to offer. Maybe it is not a coincidence that the PAVE Pakistan project deals with purity – the purity of seeds – where the cycle of food production is first given birth and takes root.
The project is working with smallholder farmers (both men and women) - introducing them to seed growing techniques and helping them become part of the seed value chain for rice, wheat and vegetable seed. Together with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Engro Corporation, the project seeks to improve the skills and expertise of farmers, women and men, while increasing their crop yields and income.
This project is innovative for three reasons:
Partnership: It is innovative in its funding. By blending public and private capital on a matching basis, the project is sustainable and effective. The Australian Government have contributed AUD $500,000, while our lead private sector partner on the ground, Engro Corporation, is contributing the remainder of the AUD 500,000 in matching funds.
Dialogue/Empowerment: PAVE is facilitating dialogue about the importance of including women in the local economy and the need for women’s voices to be heard and acted upon. Our goal was to ensure that 10% of farmers (400 women) participating at each level of the value chain were women but in the first 6-months of the project we have managed to register over 600 women and the response is overwhelming.
Education: We will be providing farmers with access to high quality seeds and introducing them to new agricultural techniques. This means that they will increase crop yields – this increased income could be invested in the lives of their children through nutritional food, education and healthcare.
You may be wondering, why seed?
Seed is incredibly important.
In Pakistan, 75% of seed is uncertified and is often sold through informal channels. Most of this uncertified seed does not meet minimum quality standards, resulting in poor yields. This leads to increased farming costs and food scarcity.
Let me leave you with this:
According to the World Bank, as the global population surpasses 9 billion by 2050, we must address the imminent global food crisis. If population projections prove true, that means we will need to feed and clothe an additional 2 billion people. This is amid growing scarcity and conflict over land, water and energy resources.
With this knowledge, we must act.
That’s why this work is so important.
Planting seeds today allows us to eat tomorrow and we hope the food will be as pure as the land it is grown in.