WASHINGTON: The World Bank WB on Thursday approved $171 million to support agricultural productivity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

This financial support also improving irrigation, strengthening small farmers’ skills, and supporting farmers to add value to their products. 

KP formers facing Challenges

Farmers in KP face serious challenges of low water use efficiency and lack modern technology, skills and knowledge to engage in high value agriculture value chains.

This results in an underdeveloped rural economy with high vulnerability to climate changes.

The KP also Irrigated Agriculture Improvement Project will help address these challenges by i) rehabilitating community watercourses; ii) establishing water users’ associations; iii) introducing high efficiency irrigation systems and laser land leveling; iv) strengthening farmers’ technical skills; and v) filling knowledge gaps on agriculture market opportunities and constraints.

Pakistan Economy based on Agriculture

“Agriculture accounts for a fifth of Pakistan’s economy and employs nearly half the labor force in the country,” said Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan.

“This project will also boost the rural economy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by benefiting millions of small farmers to diversify crops, improve productivity and increase household incomes.”

Support Provided to Smallholder Farmers

Most of the project beneficiaries will also be smallholder farmers with less than 5 hectares (12.5 acres) of land, who account for 96 percent of all farmers in KP.

Approximately 150,000 farm families (around 1.1 million people) will benefit directly from the project, mainly through community watercourse improvements. In addition, about 5,000 families will benefit from tanks and ponds, and 2,000 families from Higher Efficiency Irrigation Systems.

The project will also contribute to an improved and more climate resilient community water management system.

It aims to increase water and agriculture productivity to respond to market opportunities. As the performance of KP’s irrigated agriculture improves, the project will contribute to a more vibrant and dynamic rural economy in the province.

Cultivated Land in KP

“Cultivated land per capita is very limited in KP and only about half of it gets irrigated. KP will also need to use its limited natural resources of land and water more efficiently to meet its growing needs for food,” said Muhammad Riaz, Senior Agriculture Specialist and Team Leader of the project.

“The project will also help strengthen the province’s potential for higher water productivity and profitability with smarter technologies and infrastructure.”

Efficient use of water and climate smart agriculture are among the priority areas identified in Pakistan@100: Shaping the Future, a flagship initiative that identifies frontier interventions for Pakistan to become a prosperous country by 2047.

The International Development Association, the concessional financing arm of the World Bank, is financing the project.

The World Bank in Pakistan

Pakistan has been a member of the World Bank since 1950. Since then, the World Bank has provided $40 billion in assistance.

The World Bank’s program in Pakistan is governed by the Country Partnership Strategy for FY2015-2020 with four priority areas of engagement: energy, private sector development, inclusion, and service delivery.