LAHORE: It seems like Punjab, once again, may not be able to achieve targets of implementation of $250 million Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement (PIAPI) project despite a revised closing date.
Programme sources told Pakistan Today that work on the installation of $202 million the High-Efficiency Irrigation System (HEIS) was moving at a snail pace, as it could only cover 28,987 acres despite a target of 120,000 acres. The sources said that delay of installation was not only putting off the loan disbursements and escalating programme cost, but also holding up the economic cost benefit of the project which could be US$ 423.5 million, as a result of an assessment.
They said that the installation of the HEIS would enable farmers to have a double capacity of cultivating row crops and vegetables in both the seasons of Rabi and Kharif.
Being conservative, the analysis was done considering that only 80 per cent of the area fitted with HEIS would be cultivated with vegetables after harvesting cotton. Similarly, the area earmarked for vegetables and fitted with HEIS would be cultivated 100 per cent in Rabi and 80 per cent in Kharif. It has been further assumed that increase in yields and benefits would be less in the first year and full during the second year.
They said that installation of the HEIS was targeted at 120,000 acres would benefit from the installation of drip and other HEISs. The HEIS would be installed in a range of sizes starting from as small as 1 acre to 15 acres. However, costs and benefits estimates are prepared for 3 acres, 5 acres, 10 acres and 15 acres units as these points are assumed to define appropriately the cost and benefits curves. It is assumed that DRIP would be installed over 100,000 acres and sprinkler and other forms of HEIS would be installed on 20,000 acres. Further assumptions were made according to the targets that about 40,000 acres would come under orchards: Citrus 37 per cent, Guava 33 per cent and Mango 30 per cent on the basis of current agricultural statistics.
Also about 40,000 acres each would be under vegetables and row crops.
In southern Punjab, cotton would be given priority as it is a cash crop; in northern and eastern Punjab, mostly vegetables would be cultivated as there is a high demand for vegetables in urban areas.
The sources said that complex implementation arrangements are posing governance challenges and efficiency and transparency in procurement are also posing a risk, particularly given a large number of contracts. They said that project interventions would provide leverage substantial investments from the beneficiaries which would mitigate governance risks.
The director general Agriculture for Water Management (DGAWM), responsible for implementation of the project, reports to the Agriculture secretary on all aspects of the project, including technical, implementation, procurement, financial management, and overseeing the technical assistance.