World Bank to provide $22.2m for flood-affected farmers

The World Bank (WB) will provide financial support of $22.2 million for rehabilitation of flood-affected farmers through a project, a statement from the Ministry of National Food Security and Research said.

Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in Pakistan's northern mountains have brought floods that have affected over 33 million people and killed over 1,500, including children. The inundation is being blamed on climate change.

In July and August, Pakistan got 391mm (15.4 inches) of rain, or nearly 190% more than the 30-year average, while Sindh got 466% more than the average.

The World Health Organisation has said millions of people need humanitarian support in the flooded areas.

Read more: Malaria and diseases spreading fast in flood-hit areas

The announcement was made during a meeting between World Bank South Asia Regional Director for Sustainable Development John A Roome and Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Tariq Bashir Cheema in Islamabad.

The statement said that both sides discussed the rehabilitation and relief efforts in the floods and rains-affected areas with special reference to the farmer community and food security.

Cheema said that floods and rains have played havoc on the agriculture sector and have devastated the farming community. “At this critical time, we are only focused on rehabilitation activities in the flood-affected areas to bring back normalcy,” he added.

He said that his ministry has planned to subsidise seeds and fertiliser to support the flood-affected farmers. According to the proposal, the federal government will provide subsidised inputs to flood-affected farmers for the upcoming Rabi season on a cost-sharing basis with the provinces.

Cheema said that the proposed subsidy may be presented to the federal cabinet soon. “We plan to provide subsidised wheat and edible oil seeds, and one fertiliser bag per acre to farmers in the calamity hit areas,” he said.

Read more: EU Commission president promises 'new humanitarian aid' for flood-ravaged Pakistan

The official handout said that the disbursement will be through provincial governments and NDMA. Cheema hoped that the farmers will be able to stand back on their feet after this support.

During this national emergency, the federal government is supporting the agriculture departments of the provinces in every way possible, Cheema said.

On this occasion, John A Roome said that the World Bank will help Pakistan, in this time of need, through projects targeted to rehabilitate the affected community.

He agreed to support the rehabilitation of the farming community in flood-affected districts and locus hit areas through the Locust Emergency and Food Security (LEAFS) project of the World Bank.

He said that the WB is working with provincial agriculture departments to support the farming community. Cheema appreciated the WB group’s assistance when helping hand in recovery and rehabilitation is needed more than ever.

John A Roome said that he will request the WB Group Board to increase support for Pakistan to recover from the devastations caused by unprecedented floods.

In another meeting, Cheema directed the Department of Plant Protection (DPP) to prepare a comprehensive plan to deliver the seeds and fertiliser to the flood-affected regions by the end of the month.

He also approved the request of the department to recruit technical staff for surveillance of locust outbreak and diseases. The federal minister feared that the recent flood and rains have increased the chances of a locust attack.

He directed to rigorously inspect breeding and swarming areas to take remedial action. “The recruitment of surveillance staff and procurement of vehicles will enhance the capacity of the department to immediately respond to any unwarranted situation,” said Director General Department of Plant Protection Allah Ditta Abid.

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