Did you know that farming for seed is sometimes an even more viable income than than traditional agricultural produce? Our project in Pakistan is doing just that by partnering with Engro, a private business and combined funding from Australia.
This project is innovative because it brings organizations, institutional funders and private businesses together to fight food insecurity in rural Pakistan.
Through the project, over 4,400 farmers in 205 villages have been trained as seed producers and entrepreneurs for the mainstream seed sector. Trainings include:
- modern farming practices and,
- seed production techniques for wheat, rice and vegetables.
The project hosts training for both men and women – encouraging women to step into the seed market to earn additional income.
Since the start of activities, the project has generated positive results for the socio-economic conditions of the small farmers including:
- higher yields
- increased returns
- improved farming knowledge.
By helping farmers succeed, Engro has also increased its seed sales revenues and broadened its seed procurement base.
Due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan, project activities have been affected. After the lockdown was announced, project activities were put on-hold. Field teams were advised to stop their field activities until further guidance was issued from the government.
Recently, the government has allowed for “essential businesses” to continue their activities. Fortunately, this included our project which has since resumed field activities while strictly adhering to government and Engro’s guidelines.
Now that project activities have resumed, the project has continued the initiatives it began before the outbreak.
The project team has since continued monitoring and inspecting the wheat crop of beneficiary farmers and advising them on proper roughing practices. Procurement of wheat seed from project beneficiaries began once the plots were approved. As of now, around 200 MT of wheat seed have been procured from farmers in both districts.
The team is also distributing educational resources to farmers. These resources contain brochures pertaining to seed production cycles of wheat/rice crop, vegetable farming, vegetable seed production, Best Crop Management Practices (BCMPs), along with Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) guidelines. These resources are being distributed to farmers while keeping in mind the health, safety and social-distancing guidelines.
Distribution of seed processing sieves is also underway. The project team is distributing the seed cleaning sieves to individual seed entrepreneurs. Guidelines on how to use these sieves properly are also bring shared with the entrepreneurs.
Lastly, the project team is also actively raising awareness among the farmers and their communities regarding the safety guidelines for COVID. Farmers are very social people, so they are advised to limit movement and interactions to very urgent/important matters only. They are also being advised to avoid large gatherings. Self-hygiene and use of disinfectants is also being emphasized. At the same time, precautions needed for the safe harvesting of wheat are also being shared with the farmers.