Dr Iftikhar Ahmad, Chairman, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) inaugurated an annual review and planning meeting of the project “Watershed rehabilitation and irrigation improvement” at NARC, Islamabad.
The watershed rehabilitation project in Pakistan was sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and ICARDA launched the subject project in Pakistan in collaboration with PARC, BARI-Chakwal, SAWCRI, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad and University of Peshawar and other national and international institutions.
The objectives of this meeting are to review the progress of the project; to suggest any amendment/ improvement in the approved work plan and to brainstorm how best to disseminate the technologies. Todd Drennan (USDA), Dr Otto Gonzalez, Dr Muhammad Ashraf, Dr Abdul Majeed (ICADA) and other agri. eminent experts also addressed the participants of the meeting.
Dr Iftikhar said that Pakistan primarily has an agro-based economy, wherein annually around 22 per cent 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. These are not only control water supplies but also dictate water qualities.
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 stake holders.
He said we have introduced a number of water-smart technologies over time such as drip, sprinkler, laser land levelling and bed plantation. He also thanked the participants and distinguished foreign delegates who have travelled long distance to share their knowledge and experience in this important meeting.-PR