KARACHI: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday approved a $86.41 million loan to co-finance a project to improve irrigation system and water management in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The provincial government will contribute $10.2 million for the project, estimated to cost $96.60 million.

Manila-based ADB, in a statement, said the project will extend irrigation systems to boost agriculture production and improve water management in the Swabi and Nowshehra districts. The estimated completion date is in December 2022.

“Majority of the farm lands in the project area currently depends on rainfall for water supply, which is unpredictable and inconsistent,” the statement quoted Ryutaro Takaku, senior water resource specialist with ADB’s Central and West Asia Department as saying. “The Pehur High Level Canal extension project will develop a new irrigated area in the two districts and help them transition from rain-fed to irrigated agriculture.”

Agriculture contributes 18 percent to the province’s overall gross domestic product, engaging more than 37 percent of people in the sector’s activities.

The poverty level in the province is estimated at 29 percent, seven percent higher than the national average. Fourteen, out of the province’s 24 districts, are classified as in crisis or stressed.

The ADB said the project will help the province secure food security goals until 2020.

“The extension project will increase agriculture production in over 8,700 hectares of farms by increasing availability of water through irrigation, improving water-use efficiency and farm management capacity,” it said. “It will contribute towards poverty reduction and economic growth for about 75,000 people in the area through generated jobs and income.”  The project will become part of the Indus Basin irrigation system, considered a lifeline for the country’s agriculture sector.

 

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