SUKKUR: Over 1,600 people have died while 15.4 million have been affected by the floods in Pakistan, said chief of United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Daniele Donati on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference along with the country representative FAO Luigi Damiani and Dr Faizul Bari, the project director of Food Facility Pakistan, Donati said millions of livestock have been affected by the floods. Hundreds of thousands of them need emergency assistance, and if immediate action is not taken then tens of thousands of them will die.
According to Donati, over 200,000 cattle have been killed in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa alone. Approximately 80 per cent of the population in the affected areas depends on agriculture and 3.2 million hectares of standing crops have been destroyed.
Rice, maize, cotton, sugar, tobacco and vegetables have also been damaged. Seeds saved by households for the coming seasons have been ruined or lost, he said, adding that livestock is “the poor people’s mobile ATM”.
“Every animal we save is a productive asset that poor families can use to rebuild their lives after the floods,” said Donati.
Sindh and Punjab provinces are part of the country’s breadbasket and if the fields are still flooded in the next few months, there is a serious risk that the wheat-planting season in October will be affected.
An estimated 500,000 to 600,000 tons of wheat seed stored by households have been destroyed, he said, adding that if support does not reach farmers in time for the Rabi season, which runs from mid-September to November, they will be unable to plant wheat for 12 months, signifying the loss of two staple harvests.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2010.
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