ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved an initial financing of $5 million for the development of design and irrigation management structure of Jalalpur Irrigation Project which will make available summer flood water to 65,000 hectares to increase agricultural production of rain-fed areas in Jhelum and Khushab districts.

According to the ADB, the project design advance (PDA) and ensuing project are already listed in the country business plan for 2016-18.

The Punjab government will contribute $1.5m towards project design advance while the ADB will provide financing of $150m from its ordinary capital resources for the irrigation project which will cost $190m.

The project follows the priorities set in the ADB’s country partnership strategy for 2015-2019. The Punjab Irrigation Department will be executing the project.

The project will construct over 200km of new irrigation canals; introduce a farmers-based irrigation management; and train farmers in good farming practices. The project will directly benefit over 200,000 rural people, mostly poor, through creation of new jobs and improving livelihood, food security and economic growth.

“These interventions will boost crop production and increase the demand for farm labour. It will also create jobs during project implementation. Majority of the farmers in the project area have smallholdings and poor. Overall the interventions are pro-poor and will greatly benefit to the poor,” the ADB said.

Before the assistance was sought from the ADB, the Punjab government had carried out a preliminary feasibility study in 2008 which lacked an appropriate assessment of social and environmental safeguards, biodiversity, groundwater, drainage, institutional development, on-farm water and agriculture and climate change related issues.

ADB says the project’s preparatory technical assistance was necessary to undertake due diligence in technical, safeguards, economic and financial, and poverty and social areas.

An international organisation has been recruited, which will conduct farmers’ consultation and will explain the project objectives, major outputs and outcome to the farmers.

The consultation will help in designing on-farm and institutional components of the project and developing strategy for the formation of water users groups.

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