JICA provides $1.3m to ensure food security in locust-hit areas

ISLAMABAD: The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) would provide $1.3 million to Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to support pest control operations, besides enhancing food and nutrition security for locust-affected smallholders.

In this regard, an agreement was signed by JICA Chief Representative in Pakistan Furutu Shigeki and ad interim FAO representative Rebekah Bell, a statement issued by the FAO on Monday read.

“To support the livelihoods of desert locust-affected farming communities and enhance the food security of smallholder farmers’ households, the project would work in Kharan district of Balochistan and Umerkot district of Sindh,” the FAO stated. “These districts were identified in consultation with provincial agriculture departments and findings of food security and livelihood assessments.”

The 13-month project would focus on enhancing food and nutrition security of vulnerable rural households with pregnant and lactating women through an integrated approach, which sought to increase the quantity, quality, and diversity of household food production, and included an experiential nutrition education program. About 18,370 people will directly benefit from the project.

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Meanwhile, locust surveillance and control activities would focus on building the capacity of the Department of Plant Protection to help it identify and control future locust outbreaks.

Speaking on the occasion, JICA Chief Representative Furutu Shigeki said like East Africa, Middle East, and South Asia, Pakistan too has suffered the damage caused by desert locust swarms, adding that JICA recognized the need for immediate assistance to Pakistan and implemented emergency support to livelihoods of farmers affected by locust in October last year.

“JICA expects to strengthen locust control capacity and resilience in the medium to long term and the collaboration with FAO will contribute significantly in achieving this goal,” he said.

Thanking JICA for its financial assistance and long-term partnership, FAO’s representative in Pakistan Rebekah Bell said through collaboration with the governments of Balochistan and Sindh, this project would make a significant contribution to address the food and nutrition insecurity of vulnerable rural households. “Our research suggested that by increasing the quantity, quality, and diversity of household food production that families were able to consume a healthier diet that would hopefully, in the longer term, contribute to the prevention of child stunting and wasting and improved food security,” she added.

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