World Bank to provide $200 million to help transform agriculture sector – Business

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank (WB) has approved $200 million to support Pakistan in its efforts to transform its agricultural sector by adopting climate-smart technologies to improve water use efficiency, boost resilience to extreme weather events and increase the incomes of small farmers in Punjab.

The Punjab Resilient and Inclusive Agriculture Transformation (PRIAT) project, approved by the bank’s executive directors on Friday, will benefit about 190,000 small family farms and 1.4 million acres of irrigated land in rural communities across the region. province.

It will also provide training to small and medium-sized farm owners on water conservation and more sustainable and climate-resilient farming practices, including for women.

Women farmers have assumed an increasing share of responsibilities in agriculture in Punjab, but several factors explain their low productivity. About 74% of women depend on agriculture as a source of income, but only 40% are formally employed. Half of rural women are engaged as agricultural and family labor and about 75% of them do not receive any payment for their work

Since the project is located on the Indus River, it involves the rehabilitation and improvement of existing waterways and agricultural canals. Overall, the project would have positive environmental and social impacts by contributing to resource efficiency, improved livelihoods, crop productivity, targeting smallholders and farmers in underserved areas and reducing transport and application water losses, according to the project document.

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, and the project will increase agricultural productivity through efficient and equitable access to water. water for small farms. It will support farmers at the community and household level to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices and technologies that improve crop yields and conserve water resources in Punjab.

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

“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 productivity of the sector,” he said.

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 project team leader Guo Li. to accelerate government efforts to transform the agri-food system through market-oriented production activities that add value, increase competitiveness and generate higher incomes for farmers,” he said.

Posted in Dawn, July 17, 2022

Lana T. Arthur