PESHAWAR: USAID-ERDA provided certified maize, sunflower, and red bean seeds to 2,800 farmers in District Orakzai on Monday, with the aim of improving food security in the region.
The beneficiaries include 20 percent women and the under-served population.
The programme has distributed improved and certified varieties of maize and red bean and hybrid sunflower for Kharif season of 2023.
The program aims to support farmers of Orakzai by providing certified and improved seeds of more productive varieties of maize, sunflower, and red beans.
According to the Crop Statistic Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 2020-2021, the total cultivated area of District Orakzai is 17,908 hectares, where only 10 percent is arable and suitable for cultivation.
Agriculture is mostly rain-dependent, and some parts of the plains are being irrigated by irrigation channels taken out from the Mastura River and its tributaries.
Mohammad Irfan, Agriculture Officer of Orakzai district, said, “This program is an excellent opportunity for farmers to improve their crop yield and ensure food security in the area.
“The selected seed varieties are suitable for the local climate and soil, and we hope that farmers will adopt modern farming techniques to increase their productivity.”
Ihsan Ullah from Anjani Lower Orakzai district stated, “This support is critical for us to improve our crop yields and ensure our family’s food security.
“With these improved seeds, we hope to produce more and sell more at a better price.”
The support package includes F1-hybrid sunflower seed for 400 farmers to grow sunflowers on 0.5 acre, registered red bean seed for 400 farmers to grow red beans on 0.5 acre, and certified maize seed for 2,000 farmers to grow maize on 0.5 acre.
The total area to be cultivated is 1,400 acres.
Maize is the third most important cereal crop in Pakistan after wheat and rice.
The average productivity of maize in the settled districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is 1.9 ton/ hectare as compared to 1.09 ton/ha (57 percent of settled districts) in
the Newly Merge Districts.
(Crop Statistic of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 2020-2021), while Punjab average productivity of maize is 4.6 tons per hectare (Economic Survey of Pakistan 2020-2021).
The major reason for low productivity is attributed to the unavailability of high-yielding varieties of maize, old farming technologies, under-utilization of farm inputs and insufficient water for irrigation.
With this seed support package, USAID-ERDA’s aims to increase the productivity of maize and other crops in District Orakzai, which has favorable soil and climate for the cultivation of maize, sunflower and red bean.
The beneficiaries of the seed support package expressed their gratitude and hope to achieve better yields and consequent improvement in their livelihoods through this initiative.