For better or worse?: World Bank approves $76.4m to improve farming in province

The money will be spent under the Sindh Agricultural Growth project and benefit 112,000 farmers.

Our Correspondent July 20, 2014

HYDRABAD: The Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) has said that the Rs7.6 billion loan by the World Bank for agricultural improvements will be lost in corruption if the stakeholders do not ensure its effective utilisation.

“The government needs to inform the people, especially the farmers, of the projects and areas it plans to spend the borrowed money on,” said a resolution passed during an SCA meeting on Sunday.

“It also needs to engage the farmers in consultation for the development of the projects as well as during its implementation stages.”

SCA president Dr Syed Nadeem Qamar chaired the meeting in Hyderabad. The farmers’ representatives from different regions including Karachi, Sanghar, Sukkur and Ghokti participated through video conference.

The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) approved the $76.4 million loan earlier this month.

The loan will be spent under the Sindh Agricultural Growth project, and aims to benefit around 112,000 farmers and 66,000 hectares of land.

Improving productivity and market access, promoting horticulture and female farmers, capacity building, technical assistance and strategic planning will be part of the project.

“There is a fear that the loaned amount will be wasted and the people of this province will be burdened with repaying the loan,” said on official during the meeting.

“To avoid this, the government should ensure transparency and honest utilisation.”

The farmers also asked the provincial government to take action against the fertilizer dealers who continue to flout the official order of selling fertilizer at the subsidized rates.  They complained that the dealers were supposed to implement the budgetary subsidy from the beginning of the financial year 2014-15, starting July 1.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2014.