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Floods ruin 70 pct south Pakistan crops: FAO

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 23 Sep 2011 09:49 GMT
Author: Reuters
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MILAN, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Heavy rains and floods have destroyed or damaged 73 percent of crops and 67 percent of the food stocks in soputhern Pakistan's Sindh province, the United Nations' food agency said on Friday urging donors to step up support.

"Millions of people are destitute and face an uncertain and food-insecure future," the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statement.

It said Pakistan needed $18.9 million to deal with the most urgent needs of millions of rural families in the affected Sindh and Balochistan provinces.

Crop destruction has wiped out farmers' present and future sources of food and income with "spiralling humanitarian consequences unless immediate assistance is provided", the FAO said.

Before heavy rains hit Pakistan this year, it was estimated that families affected by the 2010 floods would require three to four cropping seasons to recover, the agency said.

"Delayed assistance will lead to heightened food insecurity, increased public health threats, loss of land tenure agreements due to farmers' inability to pay their debts, population displacement and longer-term dependence on food aid," Kevin Gallagher, FAO representative in Pakistan, said.

Saving livestock is one of the top priorities after the floods killed nearly 78,000 head of livestock in Sindh. At least 5 million animals are at risk because they lack feed and shelter and are exposed to diseases, the FAO said.

The floods, caused by heavy monsoon rains, have displaced more than 300,000 people in Sindh where people are still suffering from the last year's devastating floods, and hit cotton crops hardest, with an estimated loss of at least two million bales.

(Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova; editing by Jason Neely)

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