CEO FACE talks about FFC’s farmers program

CEO of FFC’s FACE program and the South Asia representative for IFA Gender Diversity Taskforce, Ms Maliha Malik, explains FACE's multipronged strategy to develop the agriculture sector of Pakistan. In an exclusive interview, she explained how FACE is working in close association with the government of Pakistan, CPEC authority and other private enterprises such as Askari bank to ensure agriculture up-gradation and women empowerment along with much-needed welfare services for the underprivileged.

FFC's farmers program

What is FACE? What it stands for? Why & How it came about?

Food Security and Agriculture Center for Excellence, referred to as FACE is Fauji Fertilizer Company’s premier not-for-profit program which has commenced its operations from 2019. The primary objectives of FACE include achievement of national food security, which is a serious concern with over half of country’s population vulnerable to food insecurity.

FACE has successfully implemented its all-inclusive model in Ahmedpur Lamma, Rahim Yar Khan with over 800 registered farmers, which hosts the 1st FACE Center in Pakistan.

FACE model empowers rural farmers through Best Farming Practices and Technology pack the right knowledge and support base which is critical to enhance per acre yield and quality of crops.

Read more: FACE – FFC’s Farmer’s Support Program

Farmers through the center have transparent access to high quality and certified agri inputs including seeds, micronutrients, fertilizer, crop protection and latest technology like hexacopters. To enable their access to these top line services, FACE partnership with Askari Bank provides low mark up loans for the farmers.

FACE center has the services of qualified agri experts, latest R&D and technical support through water, soil, micro nutrient testing to develop crop plans for registered farmers, from preparation of land up till sale of produce to high profiting markets.

In addition, precision-based agriculture services including drip irrigation, tunnel farming, renewable energy systems (Solar Power) are extended through bank financing which are vital for transformation of rural farmers from traditional to high value crops.

Also, social welfare services including healthcare, education for out of school children and women empowerment initiatives are being successfully run through FACE Center.

Read more: FFC achieves net profitability of Rs13.76bn

Great acronym – how did you come up with this?

The positivity behind FACE is its implementation as a hub or platform for all likeminded partners from agriculture and social sector to extend their services and projects to marginalized segments. Food Security and Precision based agriculture being centric to FACE vision is reflected in its labelling as “Food Security and Agriculture Center of Excellence”.

FACE is the face of FFC as this is what we want to achieve in our country and over all effecting the global Food Security. FACE is also the face of all our likeminded partners who want to achieve Food Security in the country.

FFC's farmers program

How do you raise your funding – do you work with new partners on each initiative? Who are you key partners?

FACE being a not-for-profit program is presently being sustained through the resources allocated by FFC. However, in view of our expanding mandate and sustainability requirements, FACE is working through a dedicated donor outreach section to access grants and international/national donations for food security and other social welfare interventions. In addition, FACE is also devising programs inline with its core objectives to supplement the program with self-generation of funds.

FACE has been envisioned as a hub for all likeminded organizations to work collectively for the welfare and support of underprivileged segments especially the small and medium farmers in rural areas. For this, FACE has established over 30 working partnerships with like minded local and international partners to further supplement and expand the mandate of FACE.

Read more: Challenges faced by our Agriculture Sector

FACE model embeds the acclaimed services of the partner to the overall working of the center to benefit marginalized and vulnerable segments. These services range from agriculture excellence, financial empowerment, social welfare services as per sustainable development goals, etc.

To us, each of our partner is special and for this we have every effort undertaken by them to strengthen the overall objectives of FACE.

What are the different initiatives that FACE is currently working on?

FACE is presently working on programs including agri experts based trainings on Best Farming Practices, Climate Smart Agriculture, Technology based agriculture (SDG 1 and 2 “No Poverty”, “Zero Hunger”). Additionally, we are working towards the introduction of High Value and Nutrition crops in place of traditional crops amongst farmers and the provision of latest technology including hexacopter (spray/surveillance), drip irrigation and tunnel farming.

FACE is also working on provision of certified agri inputs, low interest rate agriculture and livestock loans to farmers, livestock management courses and training. It is providing dairy, poultry and kitchen gardening training for women. Free soil, water and micro nutrient tests are also underway. FACE initiatives also include social welfare services including Free Education and Health facilities as per SDG 3 and 4, financial support to orphans, disaster relief, environmental and water.

In addition, FACE with partner organization is cultivating quality cotton to support Pakistan’s textile industry on over 6000-acre area in Khanpur. Similarly, with Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, FACE is also working on domestically producing high quality cotton seeds to increase the quality and yield of farmers. FACE is also partnering with China Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority for agriculture upscale in regions around Special Economic Zones.

Read more: Fauji Fertilizer invests millions of dollars in Thar as Urea sales pick up

Livestock management diploma is also underway at FACE Center which is supported by extension of loans to initiate small businesses.

What is your largest initiative currently?

FACE with partner organization cultivating quality cotton on over 5000 acre area, our partnership with Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission for domestically producing high quality cotton seeds and China Pakistan Economic Corridor based “Green Corridor” are indeed significant initiatives underway at FACE.

In addition, FACE intervention for Out of School Children at Ahmedpur Lamma is highly acclaimed with many achievements. It provides Baseline Survey for identification of Out of School Children with 1500 children registered. It has established 2 non-formal schools having 80 enrolled Out of School Children and formulated an Education Plan as a roadmap for enrolling Out of School Children.

Additionaly, it has conducted 3 community awareness and enrollment campaigns on Out of School Children. 200 Out of School Children are enrolled in public sector institutes through FACE. It has also initiated a 6-month Livestock Management Diploma for Out of School Children and provided linkage of successful candidates with partner bank loaning program for livestock breeding and dairy setup.

FFC's farmers program

Are you also giving cash to farmers to help them? How are you working with them? What micro-finance institutions are collaborating with you?

FACE ideology is based on “teach how to fish rather than offering a fish”. FACE loaning program works through “Closed Loop Model” which offers only services and quality agri inputs to farmers. This is supported by step by step patronage of farmers by FACE agri experts to enable them to achieve quality produce and increase per acre yield.

Read more: Fauji Fertilizer makes a strong comeback in the second quarter of 2019

Access to Capital is the hardest thing for farmers and at the same time basic to becoming part of the modern agricultural era – how are you helping them with this? Will you encourage farmers to benefit from Punjab Rozgar Scheme, a new initiative that will provide around Rs. 50-100 billion microcredits in three years to help struggling entrepreneurs?

FACE is a hub or platform for all likeminded programs and initiatives. FACE has a close association and working partnership with Govt of Pakistan departments working on various agriculture fronts.  All programs including Punjab Rozgar Scheme are duly supported and promoted by FACE through its platform and in the future this working collaboration will be further extended.

Apart from micro-credit how else is FACE helping the farmers? What in your experience is the biggest need of Pakistani farmers? How can they increase their per hectare yield? What are the stumbling blocks?

FACE extends multifaceted services to farmers in addition to financial empowerment.

Through our over 4 decades of working with the farmers, it is established that primary issues or hurdles to agriculture progression of Pakistan includes lack of expert knowledge, quality inputs and latest technology amongst the rural farmers.

Per acre yield increase is made possible by enabling farmers to have technical knowledge and latest technology-based agriculture practices. In addition, quality inputs and financial support is mandatory for the farmers to adopt the efficient means of agriculture. Collectively, these entire set of interventions are a pre requisite to increase per acre yield.

In recent years, Climate Change which is resulting in rising temperature, water scarcity, extreme climatic events like floods are also a big contributor to agriculture yield.

FFC's farmers program

What tangible Short Range & Long-Range goals have you set for yourself (FACE)?

FACE aims to establish itself in all regions of Pakistan to enable its services and interventions to benefit maximum farmers. Our goal is to build partnerships with international agencies to enable technology transfer to Pakistan from developed economies, provision of certified and high-quality seeds to rural farmers, low cost financing to maximum farmers under closed loop loans and women empowerment through technical training along with their skill development.

Read more: Ensuring Food Security in Pakistan

Which initiative or program is your personal favorite and why?

Women as agent of change is vital for any impactful program of national magnitude. For this, our program including loans, kitchen gardening, poultry, livestock, skill development for women are very significant in the overall implementation of the FACE model. I am also honored to be the South Asia representative for IFA Gender Diversity Taskforce which greatly supports our initiatives at various forums.

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