Alumni of an on-farm water management training programme shared their experiences, lessons and advanced farming techniques at a media event on Tuesday.
Organised by the USAID, the training aimed to impart skills to 32 progressive farmers and public-sector representatives involved in managing or selling efficient water management solutions in Pakistan.
Out of these, eight participants were sent to Australia and as many to the US for training under the current USAID Training for Pakistan Project whereas nine participants were sent to Australia and seven to the US in the previous project.
Four of the alumni from this year were present at the event. They comprised Pakistan Agriculture Research Council’s Principal Engineer Sardar Noman Latif, progressive farmer Humayun Khan, private farmer Rabia Sultan and FATA Secretariat Agriculture Directorate Deputy Director (Ground Water) Irrigation and Hydel Power Awal Hassan.
Sultan shared a presentation of her farming experience in Australia, saying “The experience has helped me change attitudes towards water management plan. It is more than just learning; in the long run, it has done wonders for each one of us,” she said.
Hassan spoke about the importance of water storage and the importance of linkages and synergy and solarising irrigation facilities.
USAID Mission Director Gregory C Gottlieb spoke about the significance of implementing the acquired farming skills in a water-scarce country like Pakistan.
“Water is precious but getting increasingly scarce in Pakistan. The situation is becoming more and more alarming with the changing demographic, development and climatic conditions,” said Gottieb in his keynote address.
Shehzad Mehmood of the USAID presented an introduction of the programme.
He shared that about 84 per cent of the rainfall occurs in the summer months of July, August and September while the rest of the year gets only about 16 per cent.
He further said that more than 90% of the water withdrawn from rivers and groundwater aquifers in Pakistan is allocated for the agriculture sector which contributes only 21 per cent to the GDP.
Pakistan’s water reserves are only sufficient to meet the country’s irrigation requirements for less than 30 days whereas the US has a 900-day reserve, he added.
The training was aimed to equip small to medium farmers with technologies to achieve optimum results at their own farms.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2014.