Water is one of the critical inputs for sustained agricultural productivity, economic development and environmental protection. Higher water productivity with efficient use is vital for the development of sustainable agriculture, which only can lead to poverty alleviation through increased agricultural productivity and profitability, enhanced food security and large scale employment generation.
This was stated by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research (NFS&R) Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan here at National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), while addressing the scientists, engineers, technologists and extension experts on the occasion of inaugural session of two-day international workshop and meeting on Watershed Rehabilitation and Irrigation Improvement in Pakistan organised by Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) in collaboration with ICARDA, USDA and other national organisations on Monday.
Bosan said availability of water in the wake of growing population and urbanisation has become one of the largest constraints in the development to meet its agricultural, domestic as well as industrial requirements. The minister said the gap between water demand and supply is increasing day by day and keeping in view the current population growth rate, it is estimated that there would be about 50 percent shortage of water by 2025.
He said the increasing in population and its increasing food requirements lead us to think and act differently. The traditional operational procedures and in-efficient irrigation methods need to be revised and updated for increasing our productivity from the same piece of land and available water.
He said the government has thus focused on agricultural growth by introducing farmer friendly policies, enhancing farm profitability and ensuring competitiveness amongst various food crops. The Government aims at providing food at affordable prices which is a pre-requisite for fighting malnutrition.
The minister said he is delighted to know that as a result of United States Government’s Afghanistan-Pakistan-US Trilateral initiative taken during 2009, United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) sponsored the project on watershed rehabilitation and irrigation improvement in Pakistan to be completed in three-year with a total cost of US $2.83 million.
The PARC Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmad said the efforts of agricultural scientists and experts under this programme will help Pakistani farmers to improve their irrigation efficiency, crop productivity and farm income, reduce soil erosion and cost of production. Agriculture Counsellor US Embassy in Pakistan, Clay Hamilton and Dr Otto Bonzalez (USDA) also highlighted the various aspect of this programme and ensured their full support for the programme.-PR