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ISLAMABAD: Secretary for Economic Affairs Division Tariq Mahmood Pasha (R) and ADB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang exchange documents after signing the loan agreement on Friday.—APP
ISLAMABAD: Secretary for Economic Affairs Division Tariq Mahmood Pasha (R) and ADB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang exchange documents after signing the loan agreement on Friday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: The government and the Asian Development Bank signed on Friday a loan agreement of $86.41 million for extending the Pehur High Level Canal Project in Swabi and Nowshehra districts which will become part of the Indus basin irrigation system.

The project will develop a new irrigated area of over 8,727 hectares in Swabi and Nowshehra districts. These areas currently depend on rainfall for agriculture water.

The project will increase agriculture production by increasing availability of water, improving water-use efficiency and farm management capacity in the area.

The ADB Country Director for Pakistan, Xiaohong Yang, and the Secretary for Economic Affairs Division Tariq Mahmood Pasha signed the agreement with the secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s irrigation department.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who was present at the agreement signing ceremony, said full assistance was being provided to provinces to complete their ongoing development projects.

The Pehur project is in line with the ADB’s Country Partnership Strategy and also included in its Country Operations Business Plan.

“Bolstering water resource management is an important step to increase farm productivity across Pakistan,” said Yang.

“The Pehur Canal Irrigation Project will help support agriculture output and raise income opportunities of the farming families in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province,” she said.

The project, formerly known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Water Resources Project, will be built on the earlier phase of the Pehur High Level Canal developed with ADB’s help by increasing the availability of water to farmers through new irrigation canals and pipeline over 65 kilometres and improving water-use efficiency and farm management capacity to secure the province’s food security targets.

The project, started in 1993 with the ADB’s financing, realised the full agricultural potential of about 40,300 ha by doubling irrigation supplies to about 35,800 ha; reclaimed about 8,000 ha of waterlogged land and developed irrigation in about 4,310 ha of mainly rain-fed land. The project was successfully completed in 2003.

Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2017