Pakistan receives 15m Covid-19 vaccine doses from ADB

ADB approves $200 mln loan to develop irrigation system in Punjab

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Islamabad: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US$200 million loan to develop an irrigation system in Punjab, which will help increase agricultural productivity and enhance food security.

The project loan is denominated in Japanese yen and will fund the construction of the second branch or Choubara system of the Grand Tar Canal Irrigation Project.

The plan will provide a reliable supply of irrigation water to 704,000 hectares of land in Bhakkar, Jhang, Khushab, Layyah and Muzaffargarh regions, thereby increasing agricultural productivity.

The government of Pakistan had earlier constructed the Main Canal and the first branch or Mankera system.

“Given Pakistan’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, it is essential to build irrigation infrastructure for climate-resilient and sustainable agriculture,” said ADB Director General for Central and West Asia Yevgeniy Zhukov.

“ADB’s support will help boost the supply of local produce and promote food security, while increasing economic growth,” Zhukov added.

Punjab is the main source of food production for Pakistan’s growing population, producing a significant portion of the country’s wheat, rice, sugarcane, and maize.

Because of Pakistan’s semi-arid climate, agricultural production is highly dependent on irrigation. Yet, irrigation efficiency remains low due to water shortages, land degradation, and mismanagement of water resources.

The Changyuan branch line system aided by ADB includes a 72-kilometer-long branch canal, 11 secondary canals with a total length of 251 kilometers, and 11 tertiary canals with a total length of 127 kilometers.

ADB will also help develop farm agricultural command areas, experiment with water-saving technologies such as land leveling and high-efficiency irrigation systems, and help train farmers in water management and climate-resilient agricultural practices.

The Main Canal and Mankera branch areas have around 49,000 farmer households and about 38,000 in the Choubara branch areas. Most of these households own less than five hectares of land.

“By integrating infrastructure and agricultural interventions, this project directly supports smallholder farmers to manage their limited resources more efficiently and maximize the benefits from irrigated agriculture,” said ADB Principal Portfolio Management Specialist Natsuko Totsuka.

“The project will strengthen the capacity of local authorities to maintain these irrigation systems, boost rural economic growth and help to reduce poverty in the province,” Totsuka said. 

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