Flooding in Pakistan continues to threaten the livelihood, nutrition, and food security of smallholder farming families. This climatic catastrophe has impacted over 33 million people and more than 1,730 people are reported to have lost their lives.
The loss of household income and assets coupled with rising food prices and disease outbreaks are negatively impacting the most vulnerable groups. Smallholder women farmers have especially suffered notable losses of their livelihoods. Agricultural ruin has left thousands of farmers with insufficient seed for planting wheat, the country’s staple food crop, intensifying food and nutrition insecurity.
Against this background, HarvestPlus Pakistan supported humanitarian efforts for recovery and resilience by distributing over 23 metric tons of Akbar-2019 certified zinc wheat seed free of cost to the most vulnerable communities and smallholder farming families. When grown and harvested, this seed will feed over 2,000 families of five people for one year.
“Last year floods damaged everything on my farm including infrastructure, livestock, and stored grains. I was worried that I would not be able to feed my family. Fortunately, I received Akbar-2019 zinc wheat seed from HarvestPlus. I planted it on one acre and got an excellent yield of nutritious wheat crop, enough to feed my family for a year. I kept aside a portion of seed for the next crop season. I thank HarvestPlus for their support in this difficult situation,” said Talib Hussain, a rural farmer living in Dera Ghazi Khan District.
HarvestPlus is working with public and private sector partners and stakeholders across the wheat value chain to scale up zinc wheat varieties and help alleviate malnutrition and address food insecurity in Pakistan. The partners include research and development institutions, agriculture extension, government ministries, academia, seed companies, farmers, aggregators, food processors, retailers, and civil society organizations.
“Biofortified zinc wheat varieties are proven to increase zinc intake and build the body’s immunity against diseases. These crops are also climate resilient and high yielding—they can help millions of smallholder farming families sustainably improve their nutrition and food security,” said HarvestPlus Pakistan Country Manager M. Yaqub Mujahid.
Five zinc wheat varieties have been released so far for farmers to grow by research and development institutions in collaboration with HarvestPlus and its partners in Pakistan, including Zincol-2016 and Akbar-2019. Adoption by farmers has been driving a rapid scale up of these nutrient-enriched varieties across the country. Today, over two million farmers are growing zinc wheat in Pakistan to improve the livelihoods, health, and nutrition of their families.