Pakistani farmers need training in efficiently capturing, storing and using water for agriculture, experts from United States said.
Pakistan being a water-deficit country, faces food security threats due to fall in agricultural yields, increasing the need for efficient usew of water resources and simultaneously, utilising and storing rain water.
In this regard, three experts from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are conducting water-resource workshops in Islamabad this week to support the Pakistan Water Dialogue Project.
Eighty-five senior officials and technical experts from the federal and provincial ministries, universities, and NGOs are attending these sessions. They are being jointly organised by USDA and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the first workshop, David Williams, the US Embassy’s Agriculture Counselor, said the Pakistan Water Dialogue Project will help farmers to efficiently capture, store, and use water for agriculture.
The USDA experts leading the workshops include Michael Kucera, an agronomist at USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service; Jon Fripp, a stream mechanics civil engineer at USDA’s Construction and Soil Management Center; and Hilary Landfried, a programme manager with the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service’s Office of Capacity Building and Development.
For six years now, USDA, with support from the United States Agency for International Development, has been working to improve watershed rehabilitation and irrigation by promoting practices and technologies that assist in water and soil conservation.
USDA’s work first began in 2011, with a five-year programme to help rural farmers. The project has so far established over 40 demonstration sites, published 150,000 brochures, held 240 farmers’ field days, and reached 14,000 farmers.
Due to these efforts, more than 1,500 farmers have already adopted one or more of the promoted technologies. USDA also partnered with the International Water Management Institute from 2013-2015. This programme brought together local officials and USDA technical experts to develop the Pakistan Water Dialogue Consensus Action Plan.
In 2016, USDA and ICARDA began the second phase of the Pakistan Water Dialogue: Diffusion and Adoption through Partnerships and Action of the Best Watershed Rehabilitation and Irrigation Practices. The programme builds upon the management practices developed in the earlier Watershed programme.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2017.