World Bank to provide $200 million to transform Punjab’s agriculture sector

agriculture sector

The World Bank (WB) approved $200 million to support Pakistan aiming to transform its agriculture sector by implementing climate-smart technologies to increase water-use efficiency, develop resilience to severe weather events and improve the income of small farmers in Punjab. 

The ‘Punjab Resilient and Inclusive Agriculture Transformation’ (PRIAT) project which had been sanctioned by the bank’s executive directors, will provide an advantage to almost 190,000 small, family-owned farms and 1.4 million acres of irrigated land in rural communities in the province. 

It will also train small- and medium-sized farm owners regarding water conservation and more sustainable, climate-resilient agricultural practices, including for women. 

Approximately 74 percent of women in Punjab rely on agriculture as a means of livelihood, however only a 40 percent are formally employed. Half of them are engaged in farm and family labor and almost 75 percent are not paid for their work.

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The agricultural sector in Punjab is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy and food security as it makes 73 percent of the country’s total food production, and the project will boost agricultural productivity from equitable and efficient access to water for small farms. 

“In recent years Pakistan’s agriculture sector has suffered losses in crop yields and livestock, damage to irrigation infrastructure, and food shortages due to climate change, particularly severe droughts in the Punjab province,” according to World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Najy Benhassine. 

Moreover, he added, “This project aligns with the Punjab Agriculture Policy 2018, which promotes the massive expansion of water conservation efforts, enhancing sustainability and resilience in the wake of climate change, and private sector participation to help boost the productivity of the sector.” 

Emphasizing the importance of agriculture, Task Team Leader for the project, Guo Li commented, “The agriculture sector has a huge opportunity to both build climate resilience and improve economic conditions by generating access to domestic and international markets” adding, “PRIAT will help accelerate the government’s efforts to transform the agri-food system through market-oriented production activities that add value, increase competitiveness and generate higher incomes for farmers.” 

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