ADB okays $200m for Punjab’s irrigation system

Aid focused on increasing agricultural productivity, enhancing food security


APP December 15, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan worth $200 million for the development of irrigation system in Punjab which would help increase agricultural productivity and enhance food security.

According to ADB’s press statement released on Tuesday, the project loan, which is denominated in Japanese yen, will finance the construction of the second branch of Choubara system of the Greater Thal Canal Irrigation Investment Program.

The scheme will provide reliable water supply to irrigate 704,000 hectares of land in Bhakkar, Jhang, Khushab, Layyah, and Muzaffargarh districts and enhance their agricultural productivity.

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

ADB Principal Portfolio Management Specialist Natsuko Totsuka said that by integrating infrastructure and agricultural interventions, this project directly supports small farmers to manage their limited resources more efficiently. It will also help maximise the benefits from irrigated agriculture, he said.

According to him, the project will strengthen the capacity of local authorities to maintain the irrigation systems, boost rural economic growth and help reduce poverty in the province.

Earlier, the government of Pakistan constructed the main canal and the first branch of Mankera irrigation system.

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

Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2021.

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