ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (29 November 2016) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $86.41 million loan to extend irrigation systems to boost agriculture production and improve water management in the Swabi and Nowshehra districts, located in Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“Majority of the farm lands in the project area currently depends on rainfall for water supply, which is unpredictable and inconsistent,” said Ryutaro Takaku, Senior Water Resource Specialist with ADB’s Central and West Asia Department. “The Pehur High Level Canal (PHLC) extension project will develop a new irrigated area in the two districts and help them transition from rain-fed to irrigated agriculture.”
Agriculture is an important sector in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where poverty level is estimated at 29% — 7% higher than the national average. Agriculture contributes 18% to the province’s overall gross domestic product, while engaging over 37% of people in the sector’s activities. A growing population and poverty ratio has also raised food security concerns, where 14 out of the province’s 24 districts classified as in crisis or stressed.
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, while helping to secure the province’s food security goals until 2020. 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.
The total cost of the project $96.60 million, with the government contributing $10.2 million. The estimated completion date is in December 2022.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.