ADB signs $42.9m loan pact to boost farming in Pakistan

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Pakistan has signed a loan of $42.9 million for upgrading water management and irrigation systems in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) paving the way for the conflict -affected tribal communities to increase their farmland productivity and income.

Mohammad Saleem Sethi, Secretary Economic Affairs Division for the government of Pakistan, and Werner E Liepach, ADB’s Country Director for Pakistan, signed the agreement.

“The FATA Water Resource Development Project (FWRDP) aims to reduce poverty and household vulnerability through development of irrigation systems and provision of irrigation water to farming families in FATA,” said Werner Liepach. “The project will allow the reliable supply of water to farmers enabling them to produce high value crops such as fruits and vegetables, thus improving income levels as well as food security for their families.”

The livelihoods of the majority of FATA’s Bajaur, Khyber and Mohmand agencies’ 2.6 million inhabitants depend on subsistence farming, raising cattle, and harnessing other natural resources. Many farmers in the project area live on rain-fed subsistence farming to grow staples such as wheat in summer and maize during winters, whereas others rely mainly on groundwater taken from wells for irrigation, with little utilization of surface water.

“The FWRDP will help farmers make optimal use of surface water for irrigation purposes by building new infrastructure, and improving on-farm availability of water by constructing lined water courses, terracing and land levelling,” said Donneth  Walton, ADB’s Principal Natural Resources and Agriculture Specialist. “It will also strengthen FATA’s water resource-base and water use efficiency by improving select watersheds, promoting conservation measures to enhance recharging of underground aquifers, and reducing the impact of floods.”

The project when completed by 2020 will benefit 116,751 households, or approximately 1.4 million people, in three agencies and improve around 9,700 hectares of land. FWRDP promotes simple and small irrigation schemes that can be maintained by the local communities.