ROME: A UN food agency launched an appeal for $18.9 million on Friday to help farmers in southern Pakistan hit by floods it said were even more disastrous than last year.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said the money was needed "to address the most time-critical needs of millions of rural families in Sindh and Balochistan provinces."
The call for funds is part of the latest UN appeal for Pakistan, and aims to provide emergency livestock support and critical agriculture packages to more than 300,000 needy families, it said in a statement.
Heavy monsoon rains that began in mid-August destroyed or damaged 73 per cent of crops and 67 per cent of food stocks in affected districts of Sindh province, and have killed nearly 78,000 head of livestock," the FAO said.
"Millions of people are destitute and face an uncertain and food-insecure future."
The agency said the disaster struck before families affected by last year's flooding were able to even start recovering, especially as Sindh did not receive as much assistance as other provinces in 2010.
"The floods and rain deepen the risk of losing more vital livestock assets and, for some, missing another opportunity to plant wheat and other essential crops," it said.
The FAO said a top priority was to prevent further losses among at least 5 million cattle and other livestock at risk, by supplying them with feed and treating them against diseases and worm infestations.
"Around 80 per cent of people in the affected area depend on agriculture, including livestock, for a living," FAO senior emergency and rehabilitation coordinator Luigi Damiani said.
"These animals often represent a family's entire life savings."
In addition farmers needed critical seeds and fertilizer, in time for the upcoming winter planting season, along with repair of irrigation and drainage infrastructure.
"The destruction of crops has wiped out farmers' present and future sources of food and income, with spiralling humanitarian consequences unless immediate assistance is provided," the FAO warned.
"Delayed assistance will lead to heightened food insecurity, increased public health threats, loss of land tenure agreements due to farmers' inability to pay their debts, population displacement and longer-term dependence on food aid," Kevin Gallagher, the FAO representative in Pakistan was quoted as saying.