Pakistan, ADB sign $8.3m loan deal to boost agricultural productivity in Punjab

Financing aimed at enhancing water availability in Punjab

ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed an agreement on Wednesday to provide $8.32 million in financing to the government of Pakistan to enable vital preparatory work ahead of a series of major projects to enhance water availability and increase agricultural productivity in Punjab.

Disbursed as a Project Readiness Financing Facility for the Punjab Water Resources Management Projects, the loan will finance the preparation of detailed designs and safeguard documents, feasibility studies and other due diligence work ahead of the implementation of five priority irrigation infrastructure projects identified by the provincial government.

“Agriculture is a mainstay of Pakistan’s economy and vital to ensuring continued food security,” said ADB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang.

“This loan will ensure that the proposed, upcoming irrigation projects - which are fundamental to the development of Pakistan’s agriculture sector - get off to the best possible start.”

The agreement was signed by Xiaohong and Economic Affairs Division Secretary Syed Pervaiz Abbas at a ceremony in Islamabad.

Punjab is heavily reliant on the Indus Basin irrigation system, which provides irrigation water to some 15 million hectares of land across South Asia. However, deteriorated and century-old irrigation systems and inefficient water management have led to the unreliable delivery of surface water.

The five projects include the Rehabilitation and Upgrade of Upper Jhelum Canal System; Improvement of Dera Ghazi Khan Canal Irrigation System; Remodelling of Rasul-Qadirabad, Qadirabad-Balloki, and Balloki-Suleimanki Canals; Greater Thal Canal Project Phase-2 (Dhingana Branch System, Noorpur Branch System, and Mahmood Sub-branch System); and Harnessing of Hill Torrents in Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur.

By reducing potential implementation delays, the loan will also enable the Punjab government to mobilise funding for the five projects - estimated to require $1.2 billion - more effectively.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2020.

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