UN agency uses local mills in Pakistan’s Swat Valley to improve access to food

Returning families walk past closed shops, other buildings in Swat District in Pakistan's NWFP

17 March 2010 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that it has contracted eight mills in Pakistan’s conflict-affected Swat Valley to produce fortified wheat flour in a bid to boost the local economy and make food more easily accessible to families in the area.

“The combination of conflict and high food prices since the humanitarian crisis started has been devastating to many people in the Swat Valley,” said Wolfgang Herbinger, WFP’s representative in Pakistan. “Milling flour locally will help support local business amid constant insecurity as well as increase availability of flour,” he added.

The locally produced wheat flour is also expected to stabilize prices, which were already high globally before the start of the conflict and soared again when conflict escalated in the Swat Valley in the summer of 2009. More than 3 million people were displaced as a result of the conflict and many of them still require food aid because they have not been able to return to their villages.

WFP already mills wheat flour in Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Rawalpindi and fortifies it with micronutrients. The newly-contracted mills in Swat Valley bring to 25 the number of local mills used by the agency. They will have the capacity to produce more than 2,000 metric tons of wheat flour daily. That capacity will be increased as the security situation improves.

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