In this file photo, a farmer spreads out maize for drying. A grant from the ADB aims to increase farmers access to technologies to strengthen agriculture value chains in rural Punjab.—APP
In this file photo, a farmer spreads out maize for drying. A grant from the ADB aims to increase farmers access to technologies to strengthen agriculture value chains in rural Punjab.—APP

ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank has approved a grant of $2.5 million for a technical assistance designed to facilitate rapid adoption of advanced technologies to improve the productivity and profitability of the agriculture sector in Punjab.

The ADB assistance will help increase farmers access to technologies to strengthen agriculture value chains in rural Punjab, and contribute to farmers’ high income, improved livelihood in rural communities, increased food security, and sustainable agriculture growth of the province, a report released by ADB said.

Through the activities financed under the technical assistance, farmers’ access to technologies for harvest, post-harvest and direct marketing will be enhanced, and engagement of agribusinesses and agriculture-based industries operating in value chain businesses will be strengthened.

The Punjab Agriculture Department had requested assistance from ADB to improve the overall performance of the sector through strengthened value chains supported by advanced technologies.

The technical assistance is co-financed by the Japan Fund fort Poverty Reduction and will be administered by the environment, natural resources, and agriculture division of Central and West Asia Department of ADB. The Punjab government’s agriculture policy emphasises modernised agriculture management and improved value chain development.

The ADB-financed Punjab basmati rice value chain knowledge and support technical assistance which was implemented from 2014-18, supported small farmers’ use of advanced technologies in their farming practices for basmati rice, a premium commodity for export.

According to the project document, the basmati technical assistance set the stage for ADB private sector support to the basmati rice producers, and based on the achievements of basmati technical assistance, the Punjab agriculture department intends to further support Punjab’s small farmers in using and adopting advanced technologies with a focus on harvest, post-harvest, and marketing activities for three grain crops — rice, wheat and maize — that are the main income source of many small farmers in Punjab.

This further support will include engagement with private sector service providers and relevant industries in the grain value chain, for which ADB’s continued assistance is required.

The document says the technical assistance will have four outputs: demonstration of advanced harvest and post-harvest technologies conducted; ICT-based direct marketing platform developed and installed; capacity of stakeholders in developing and adopting advanced technologies increa­­sed; and investment opportunities to scale up the adoption of technologies formulated.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2019