Nazmeena’s Story: Agricultural Livelihood Restored through Voucher Scheme in Swat

Nazmeena’s Story: Agricultural Livelihood Restored through Voucher Scheme in Swat

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Prior to the 2010 floods, Nazmeena, a sixty-five year old woman from Jogar Garhi Village, comfortably supported her husband, son, and daughter with income from approximately one acre of cultivable land and livestock which included a buffalo and milking cow. Due to her husband’s chronic asthma, the responsibility of supporting her family was upon Nazmeena. She managed a yearly income of approximately 35,000 rupees and was able to afford clothing and other necessities including her husband’s medication. A majority of their food came from their land so extra food expenses were minimal.

The floods resulted in great loss for the family. Nazmeena’s husband, Mian, became seriously ill and remains incapable of helping in the fields. Her son, a disabled man, contributes income from inconsistent daily wages which are insufficient to fulfill their basic food needs. A large part of the agricultural land was destroyed including maize crops and offseason vegetables. In addition, her cow, buffalo, agricultural tools, seeds, and half their house washed away. She was left with 60% of her land but had no means to rehabilitate it.

In early 2011, Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan mobilized a village organization in her locality of which she became an active member. Additionally, she qualified for CWS-P/A’s food security initiative which became a positive turning point for her family. The component she qualified for was an agricultural input distribution initiative through voucher scheme. This initiative is unlike the common practice of distributing a standard set of agricultural inputs from which beneficiaries often sell the items for cash. The voucher scheme empowers the beneficiaries to pursue their livelihood restoration based on their individual needs. Beneficiaries receive vouchers that can be used during a specified market day where carefully selected, local vendors offer a wide range of agricultural inputs. Not only do the farmers benefit, but the vendors earn income from the sale of their goods through the vouchers, thus, supporting the local economy.

Nazmeena received orientation on how the vouchers can be used as well as training on integrated crop management. With the vouchers worth 10,000 rupees, Nazmeena purchased fertilizers (33%), seeds (36.5%), and agricultural tools (30.5%) during the market day in Madyan. During a visit from CWS-P/A’s social mobilizer in April, Nazmeena shared that she had rehabilitated her land and raised a vegetable nursery of tomatoes. She was busy using the tools she acquired from the voucher scheme to prepare land for sowing vegetable seeds in May and June. Optimism showed as she discussed how 20% vegetable production would meet family needs while 80% would be sold in the market. Additionally, she expected to store maize crop for annual consumption.

“If CWS-P/A had not helped me, I would have not been able to cultivate my land; I would have to rely on the high interest rate loans from vendors with strict conditions. The beauty of the scheme was that we were free to purchase at our own will during the market day.”