ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad inaugurated an annual review and planning meeting of the project “Watershed Rehabilitation and Irrigation Improvement” at NARC, Islamabad.
Todd Drennan (USDA), Dr Otto Gonzalez, Dr. Muhammad Ashraf, Dr Abdul Majeed (ICADA) and other agri experts also addressed the participants of the meeting.
Dr Iftikhar Ahmad said that Pakistan primarily has an agro-based economy, wherein annually around 22% GDP contributions are derived from agriculture sector.
The contributions of agriculture sector are mainly dependent on irrigation water availabilities besides other crop production inputs. If water availabilities are threatened, the subsequent socio-economic structure, particularly in rural areas will be at greater risk. The failure of agricultural production will also hamper livelihoods in urban settings besides emergence of food security and safety issues.
Dr Iftikhar said that due to many reasons particularly improper water management at all level Pakistan is fast becoming a water-insufficient country. The major part of available water comes from Watershed areas.
The challenges of soil and water conservation, their productivity enhancement, other natural resources management and livelihood opportunities generation in these remote areas are of vital importance. Watersheds are very complex in nature and different in characteristics, requiring effective management by all stakeholders.
He said we have introduced a number of water-smart technologies over time such as drip, sprinkler, laser land leveling and bed plantation. However, the use of such technologies will remain suboptimal unless trained human resource is available in the country.
He appreciated the support of USDA-ICARDA and other national and international institutions to join hands of PARC. He also thanked the participants and distinguished foreign delegates who have traveled long distance to share their knowledge and experience in this important meeting.
Todd Drennen said that 90% of total water use in Pakistan is used for agriculture. It is thus a responsibility of the agriculture sector to find ways to protect the supply and find better and more efficient ways to use it. Under this project a process started to help farmers understand alternative irrigation systems and techniques.
The success of this programme will ultimately be measured by the adoption of new irrigation technologies and water storage techniques.
Dr. Abdul Majeed also presented overview of the project activities in Pakistan. Dr M Ashraf also presented detailed project overview and key achievements regarding land and water resources of Pakistan, major water-sector issues, project objectives, approach and methodology, promising technologies identified to address these issues and major accomplishments.