World Bank approves $200 million for Pakistan’s agriculture sector – Business

The World Bank board on Saturday approved $200 million in financing for Pakistan’s agriculture sector.

The financing will be used to support the transformation of the country’s agricultural sector by adopting climate-smart technologies to improve water use efficiency, build resilience to extreme weather events and increase the incomes of smallholder farmers, the World Bank said in a statement.

“Punjab’s agricultural sector is central to Pakistan’s economy and food security, as it accounts for 73% of the country’s total food production,” the international lender said.

The World Bank added that the Punjab Resilient and Inclusive Agriculture Transformation Project (PRIAT) will increase agricultural productivity through efficient and equitable access to water for smallholders. The program will help farmers at the community and household level adopt climate-smart agricultural practices and technologies, the World Bank said, which will improve crop yields and conserve water resources in Punjab.

“In recent years, Pakistan’s agricultural sector has suffered from crop and livestock yield losses, damage to irrigation infrastructure and food shortages due to climate change, particularly severe droughts in Punjab province,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank country director for Pakistan.

“This project aligns with the Punjab Agriculture Policy 2018, which promotes a massive expansion of water conservation efforts, building sustainability and resilience to climate change, and private sector involvement to help boost the industry productivity.

PRIAT will help farmers implement innovative and climate-smart technologies to help the government of Punjab achieve economies of scale to transform the agricultural sector. The project will engage the private sector to find appropriate technologies and provide tailored training to water user associations and individual households to improve water conservation practices and agricultural productivity.

“The agriculture sector has a huge opportunity to both build climate resilience and improve economic conditions by generating access to domestic and international markets,” said Guo Li, project team leader. “PRIAT will help accelerate government efforts to transform the agrifood system through market-driven production activities that add value, increase competitiveness and generate higher incomes for farmers.

The World Bank said the project will benefit about 190,000 small family farms and 1.4 million acres of irrigated land in rural communities across the province. “It will also provide training to small and medium-sized farm owners on water conservation and more sustainable and climate-resilient agricultural practices, including for women,” he said.

Lana T. Arthur