Food Security is the accumulative measure of people’s access, affordability and subsequent availability of food throughout the year in a sustainable and stable manner. Being centric to the overall progression of any state, the Vision 2030 by United Nations has placed Food Security as the second most significant challenge (Sustainable Development Goals “Zero Hunger”) faced by the world if absence of collective and concentrated effort by all states towards overcoming this global challenge.
Pakistan, a state blessed with fertile lands, favorable climate and world’s largest irrigation network has remain food sufficient and a major exporter of staple crops globally throughout most of its 72 years of existence. Agriculture has spearheaded our national economy with a sustained contribution of over 25% for over 50 years while engaging almost 50% of nation’s workforce.
This splendid legacy and excellence has unfortunately met turbulent conditions in recent years owing to a web of challenges and shortcomings, which are immense as compared to the resources and expertise available to Government Of Pakistan (GoP). Resultantly, Pakistan Food Security index has seen a substantial decline. As per World Food Program Nutrition Survey 2018, upto 37% of the national population is food insecure, while 40% of children under age of 5 are stunted, being the second highest in the region.
Fauji Fertilizer Company (FFC) as Pakistan’s largest private agri-stakeholder, while gauging the severity of this national crisis has unveiled a nationwide program titled Food Security and Agriculture Center of Excellence (FACE) which it sees as the wholesome program for achieving food security in Pakistan and other developing countries. FFC has a rich history of playing a proactive role towards nation building with exemplary not for profit initiatives aimed at alleviating agriculture sector in Pakistan and extending capacity building of farmers, especially in rural areas.
Since 1982, FFC through such initiatives has reached upto 2.2 million farmers and FACE is another addition to this withstanding commitment of FFC to the ailing and deprived farming community of the country.
FACE works through a chain of highly linked and diversified state of the art farmer community centers offering a wide array of advance agriculture, economic empowerment and social welfare services to the farmers, all extended to the local community under one roof. This all-inclusive model works with end line farmers and their households to extend a variety of quality services, powered by high tech state of the art technology and expertise to assist them on every step on their journey to prosperity.
On first stage, FACE agri experts “profile” the farmer through provision of soil, water and micro nutrient test of the land, made possible through FFC advance agri – labs spread all across Pakistan. This profiling of basic indicators along with R&D input from FFC agri scientists pertaining to regional dynamics, weather trends, and crop feasibility culminates to the preparation of “Crop Plan” for each farmer, which then converges technological and technical support for a complete crop cycle.
Based on the crop plan, the right variety and quality of agri – inputs ranging from pesticides, high germinating seeds and balance use of fertilizer is recommended to the farmer(s), which unlike the past, is in his access through certified partner outlets within FACE Center.
Access to capital has been a major cause of rural farmer’s inability to upscale and transform the agriculture on modern and efficient lines. His inability to arrange monetary resources leads to a compromise in the selection of quality inputs, a major catalyst to crop failure. FACE overcomes this hindrance by extending hassle free and transparent low cost loans to the farmers through these centers, which are utilized, by farmers as per “Crop Plan” to access and utilize quality inputs and technology that enables him to attain up to 20% more yield per acre and on average 30% more profitability through high quality produce. FACE has evolved the most effective “Close Loop” financing model where services and products are available to the farmers in place of hard cash, which eliminates the inefficient and ineffective use of the borrowed funds.
FACE Center is home to the most advance and innovative agriculture technology available and accessible to the rural farmers for the first time in Pakistan. To ensure unhindered utilization of these hi tech services, FACE model has embedded all such services with the “Close Loop” loan cycle for the rural farmers. FACE has joined hands with reputed service providers under partnership agreements to extend services including hexacopter for aerial mapping, monitoring and precise spraying of pesticide, fertilizer and seeds. In addition, services for setting up High Value Crop Farms enabled through tunnel farming, drip irrigation and solar-based agriculture solution are easily available to the farmers from FACE Center.
Being an all-inclusive service center for farmers, FACE agri experts extend around the year capacity building, technical training and on field sessions to the farmers to aid them in achieving record and quality yield from their fields. Upon cultivation, FACE field team assists the farmer in reaching best buyers and markets for their produce.
For social welfare of the farmer’s household and marginalized community in the proximity of FACE Center, a wide array of services are offered which includes Non-Formal Schools for Out of School Children, quality healthcare services through advance medical and diagnostic camps, women empowerment programs including training on kitchen gardening, home based poultry and other avenues of progression.
For the youth of the area, FACE centers are home to entrepreneurship training and courses so that they can acquire market skills for a promising future. Recently, FACE and its partner organization has initiated a 6 month certified Best Livestock Practices and Management Program.
Under this all-inclusive model, the first FACE center is successfully operational at South Punjab (District Rahim Yar Khan) which till date has enrolled over 500 farmers. Being envisioned as a nationwide program, FFC is set to unveil FACE Centers in all regions of Pakistan in the coming years.
FACE program is playing a pivotal role in the current COVID and Locust crisis faced by Pakistan through extending invaluable services to the farmers and local populace. Upto 5400 households have been extended emergency food supplies and safety gear during COVID while for farmers a comprehensive COVID awareness and safety program during Wheat Harvesting Season was undertaken. On Locust, FACE is collaborating with GOP to utilize state of the art hexacopter technology to monitor and contain locust swarms while engaging farmers to undertake collective measures to safeguard their valuable fields from locust attacks.
FFC through its FACE program is supplementing the GoP efforts and initiatives aimed at enabling Pakistan to achieve Food Security for its 220 million population through transformation of agriculture from traditional to modern lines of action and implementation. The model has been hailed and recognized at international stage for its effectiveness and practicality including IFA Asia Pacific Crossroad Summit 2019 at Sydney where FFC presented FACE as the answer to meet global growing divide between food production and consumption.