Action Against Hunger (ACF), an international humanitarian organization, is helping women in Sindh, Pakistan become self-sufficient by teaching them how to grow saline tolerant crops.
Climate change is causing an increase in unpredictable and intense monsoons, which are impacting Sindh’s ability to produce agricultural and livestock products. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the flooding in Sindh has left 300,000 people in need of food assistance.
“Seasonal monsoon rains have both positively and negatively influenced the food security situation,” Moiz Ali, the Senior Food, Security, and Livelihoods Manager at ACF in Pakistan, tells Food Tank. “The rains have been positive in terms of recharging groundwater for drinking and irrigation purposes.”
But Ali also says that climate change is increasing the salinity levels in the soil, which makes it difficult to cultivate crops.
To address these issues, ACF established Saline Tolerant Fodder Production, a pilot program that is working to help women in the Thatta district reclaim salinity-affected soils.
Through this program, ACF is holding training sessions with more than 300 women to enhance their knowledge on soil nutrition, silage making, and production techniques on saline tolerant crops. ACF is also providing grants to 22 women to manage demonstration plots that grow saline tolerant crops and vegetables for livestock feed.
One of the crops that women are cultivating is sugar beets. According to a case study published by ACF, the Thatta district could produce nearly 30,000 to 37,400 kilograms of sugar beets per acre.
But, while this project is an important start, Ali acknowledges that many rural communities in Sindh need even more external assistance to reduce food insecurity levels.
“Increasing the access and outreach of the humanitarian response is essential, parallel to initiating long-term development projects related to agriculture, food security, and resilience-building among the vulnerable communities,” says Ali.
In the meantime, ACF is continuing to provide technical, financial, and in-kind support so they can combat high rates of food insecurity in Sindh.
“I had no hope about a crop growing in my saline land,” Sabira, a participant in the project, states in the case study. “It was ACF’s support that made it possible.”