‘Only alternative irrigation techniques can help save water’

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A meeting for adopting alternative irrigation systems and techniques to conserve water in the country was held on Thurday.
“If water availability is threatened, the subsequent socio-economic structure, particularly in the rural areas will be at greater risk”, said Dr.Iftikhar Ahmad, Chairman, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), while speaking at the Annual Review and Planning Meeting of the Project “Watershed Rehabilitation and Irrigation Improvement” here on Thursday.
The Watershed Rehabilitation and Irrigation Improvement Project in Pakistan was sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and ICARDA launched the subject project in Pakistan in collaboration with PARC.
The objective of the meeting was to review the progress of the project, to suggest amendments in the approved work plan and to brainstorm on how best to disseminate technologies.
Dr Iftikhar said that Pakistan primarily has an agro-based economy, wherein annually around 22 percent GDP contributions are derived from the agriculture sector.
He said that contributions of the agriculture sector were mainly dependent on irrigation water availabilities besides other crop production inputs.
“The failure of agricultural production will also hamper livelihood in urban settings besides creating food security and safety issues”, he added.
He said that due to many reasons particularly improper water management at all levels, Pakistan was fast becoming a water-insufficient country.
The challenges of soil and water conservation, their productivity enhancement, other natural resources management and livelihood opportunities generation in these remote areas were of vital importance.
He said “we have introduced a number of water-smart technologies over time, such as drips, sprinklers, laser-land leveling and bed plantation.
However, the use of such technologies will remain suboptimal unless trained human resource is available in the country”.
Todd Drennen, a representative from USDA said that 90 percent of the total water in Pakistan was used for agriculture. It is thus the responsibility of the agriculture sector to find out ways to protect the supply and better and more efficient ways to use it.
“Under this project a process had started to help farmers understand alternative irrigation systems and techniques.
The success of this program will ultimately be measured by the adoption of new irrigation technologies and water storage techniques”, he added.