SAFBIN Program kicked off in Lahore, Pakistan on 02 August 2018 to promote local food and nutritional security for the better future of small farmers. The launching ceremony was attended by a diverse gathering of farmers, researchers, scientists, SAFBIN staff members, government officials from Agriculture department, media persons, donors and NGO representatives. The remarks from different dignitaries, cutting of a ribbon, followed by a SAFBIN song and a panel discussion remained the main highlights of the launch ceremony.
SAFBIN stands for “smallholder adaptive farming and biodiversity network”. SAFBIN is a South Asia regional programme, which ensures food security in times of climate change for 7425 smallholder families at regional level and 1350 farmer families at Pakistan level. The overall concept of SAFBIN is around empowering the smallholder communities to maximize the use of available resources in an efficient and effective manner in order to address their development challenges. The primary focus of SAFBIN II is to contribute to SDG 2 “Zero hunger”.
This change through SAFBIN Program will not happen by itself, adds His Excellency Bishop Benny Travas, Chairman Caritas Pakistan in his keynote address. Pakistan is an agricultural country and this sector is facing various problems like water logging, salinity, subsistence farming, limited cultivable land, shortage of water and instability in market prices. “Caritas is a social arm of Catholic Church. I feel pleasure that Caritas Pakistan is investing efforts in introducing such wonderful initiatives for smallholder farmers, providing them with the facilities, knowledge and techniques for cultivating prosperity for their families and for all of us. I appreciate and salute to the small farmers who devoted themselves for contributing their role in SAFBIN,” further says Bishop Benny Travas.
With more than 80 percent smallholder farmers in Pakistan are the largest community, affected the most due to food insecurity caused by climate change, says Mr. Amjad Gulzar, Executive Director of Caritas Pakistan while welcoming all the participants. This is a continuation of EU funded phase of SAFBIN, which ended in 2016 and four Caritas Member Organizations are implementing this program, he further added.
Mr. Amir Irfan, Project Manager-SAFBIN highlighted agriculture statistics, outcomes, stakeholders, strategies, beneficiaries and some activities of the program. SAFBIN is not a program; it is a movement and a mission for the development of small farmers, added Mr. Amir Irfan.
The Chairman Caritas Pakistan Bishop Benny Mario Travas accompanied by Executive Director and other government officials and NGO representatives unveiled the SAFBIN logo and launched SAFBIN brochure, mugs and handbags.The panelists of the panel discussion consisting of Ghulam Zakir Hassan Sial (Irrigation Research Institute), Dr.Saamia Saif (Environmentalist), Naseem Ahmed, Deputy Director Agriculture Extension and two farmers gave valuable inputs on water crisis, effects of climate change, problems faced by small farmers and extension services for small farmers.
While praising the launching of the SAFBIN Program, Ms. Shabnam Fareed from JICA, Arifa Mukhtar and Adaptive, and Shamaun Javed, government officer from Adaptive Research described it as a unique program for the benefit of small farmers.