Households in 28 districts in Pakistan report loss of income and higher cost of living

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ISLAMABAD: Households in 28 districts in Pakistan revealed that more than half of surveyed households reported reduced income, high food and fuel prices, and illness or death in their household.

According to the results of a survey conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 28 districts, households reported a decline in agricultural income, particularly from the sale of staple crops, but also agricultural trade and casual agricultural labor. . Agricultural shocks were less frequent than economic shocks, but some districts had prevalence rates much higher than the overall average.

FAO conducted the survey through the Emergency Data Monitoring System to monitor agricultural livelihoods and food security in the three provinces. The results of the investigation were made public on Friday.

The survey targeted Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh, and was conducted from March to April 2022. Face-to-face interviews were conducted in seven districts of KP (Bajaur, Khyber, Kurram, Mohmand, North Waziristan , Orakzai and South Waziristan); twelve districts of Balochistan (Chagai, Gwadar, Harnai, Kech, Kharan, Killa Abdullah, Loralai, Nushki, Panjgur, Pishin, Washuk and Zhob); and nine districts in Sindh (Badin, Dadu, Jamshoro, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Sujawal, Tharparkar, Thatta and Umerkot. This third survey used a random sample of 6990 representative rural households at the district level.

Plant diseases were more prevalent in Kharan and Loralai districts while animal diseases were more prevalent in Chagai, Kech, Kharan, South Waziristan and Tharparkar districts. In addition, access to pasture was difficult for 7 percent of households in Pishin, and other crop and livestock shocks were cited by 17 percent in Chagai, 18 percent in North Waziristan and 26 percent in hundred in Sanghar districts.

Compared to a typical year, the area sown during the 2022 Rabi season was lower for wheat and cash crops than for other crops. The most frequently cited difficulties in agricultural production were access to fertilizers and lack of water for irrigation and plant diseases. Access to fertilizers and lack of irrigation water were more frequently cited by wheat and cash crop farmers, while plant diseases and seed quality were more frequently cited by market gardeners.

Of the farmers surveyed, 68% reported a reduced harvest compared to a typical year (70% for wheat). Crop growers reported similar production levels to the previous year. A drop in harvest was frequently reported in Sindh (76 percent) and was generally associated with smaller planted areas, lack of water and limited access to fertilizers.

Nearly half of those who sold crops reported marketing difficulties. These included high marketing costs (65%) and low selling prices for products (57%).

According to the survey, for cattle and goats, herd sizes have changed significantly compared to a year ago. The proportion of farmers reporting a decrease in herd size was high, especially in Washuk, Nushki and Chegai. Changes in herd size were mainly due to distress sales, deaths (especially for goats) and deterioration of pasture. Difficulties accessing feed, pasture and veterinary services were the most common challenges, with access to pasture affecting goat herders the most.

About half of the respondents reported difficulties in selling livestock products with higher marketing costs, weaker demand and lower prices reported as the main problems. Forty-seven percent of goat farmers reported lower prices than the average price for the current period in a normal year. Among households that reportedly engaged in fishing, fish was harder to find compared to last year, but difficulties in accessing fishing gear and fuel were also cited.

The prevalence of recent moderate or severe food insecurity was 40 percent. Sindh districts had the highest prevalence of moderate and severe RFI at 48%, Balochistan followed at 37%, then Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa at 28%. The Food Consumption Score (FCS) revealed that 27 percent had poor food intake, particularly in Sindh (33 percent), and 32 percent were borderline.

In addition to low food consumption, a large proportion of households have adopted livelihood strategies that deplete their assets. Most respondents identified cash or food assistance as the most urgent need, but a high proportion of households mentioned agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, animal feed and veterinary services.

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