The farmers were provided walk-in tunnel structures and certified high-grade vegetable seeds that were cultivated and are now ready to be harvested.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) installed walk-in tunnels for off-season farming in the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the help of USAID to promote contemporary agricultural procedures. Seventy-five tunnels are installed in Khyber, South Waziristan, North Waziristan and Orakzai District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The activities were initiated before the onset of COVID-19, and as such, provided a welcome and timely relief to local farmers. They can benefit from the harvest at a time when their lives and livelihoods are disrupted due to the lockdown.
These farmers were provided walk-in tunnel structures and certified high-grade vegetable seeds that were cultivated and are now ready to be harvested. This activity is part of a restoring subsistence and promoting a new commercial agriculture program in the tribal districts of KPK, which aims to promote sustainable agriculture enterprise development by establishing market structures and services, developing value chains, expanding markets, and building capacity of both men and women farmers.
Before COVID-19, FAO offered extensive off and on-job training for the farmers and arranged external exposure visits to introduce them to tunnel farming. The innovation is allowing farmers to minimize losses incurred due to the coronavirus. FAO is also supporting these tunnel farmers in developing linkages with local and national markets.
“The poorest and most vulnerable groups have a higher likelihood to experience higher negative effects of the current pandemic and related lockdown. It includes subsistence farmers as well as smallholder farmers’ enterprises. Modernization of Agriculture practices and digital technology to provide real-time information to farmers on prices or to support the supply chain can be effective resilience and mitigation measures in time of shocks such as COVID19,” said Minà Dowlatchahi, FAO Representative in Pakistan.
FAO plans to continue the support for farmers with modernization and agro-technology in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Merged Districts to boost higher-value production, food security, and agro-livelihood opportunities. Walk-in tunnels help increase productivity – reducing the yield gaps and also help achieve sustainable increases of agro-food through improved agriculture practices.