WASHINGTON, March 20, 2015 ─ The World Bank today approved US$187 million for a Sindh Irrigated Agricultural Productivity Enhancement Project (SIAPEP) to help improve irrigation water management at tertiary and field levels in Sindh. The project will support efficient management of scarce water resources and is designed to augment adaptation under different climate change scenarios.
Despite extensive irrigation infrastructure, widespread use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and availability of hybrid seeds in the market, agriculture productivity is low in Pakistan and especially in Sindh. An estimated 40 to 50 percent of the water that is delivered through community water course networks is lost. The main causes of these losses are seepage, spillage, and side leakage from the water course banks.
“Flood irrigation is commonly adopted by most farmers in Pakistan; and a significant amount (20 to 25 percent) of irrigation water is lost during its field application”, says Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “The project will help farmers in making every drop of water count toward improved yield.”
The project is designed to deliver a combination of interventions: (a) water courses improvement to upgrade the efficiency of delivery in the field; (b) precision land leveling to improve the applications in the field where flood irrigation will remain prevalent; (c) High Efficiency Irrigation Systems – drip irrigation for orchard, vegetables, flowers, other high value row crops.
“Most of the project interventions are well tested and demand driven, with reasonable co-financing from beneficiary farmers”, says Mahwash Wasiq, Task Team Leader of the Project. “The project will yield high economic and financial returns, as well as substantial social and economic benefits.”
SIAPEP will benefit the poorest of the rural society. The direct beneficiaries will be small holder farmers (up to 13 acres) and medium-size farmers (13 -50 acres) in Sindh engaged in irrigated agriculture, including (i) around 198,000 farm households cultivating land in the command areas of the water courses to be improved by the project, and (ii) around 2,600 farm households supported by the project in high-efficiency irrigation. In addition, a large population would also benefit indirectly from the project, such as landless farm laborers for agricultural operations, and temporary and permanent laborers engaged in construction and manufacturing sectors. As a consequence of increased crop production, agricultural employment is expected to rise by about 16 percent.
The credit is financed from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s grant and low-interest arm. It will be on standard IDA terms, with a maturity of 25 years, including a grace period of 5 years.