U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pakistani experts, and ICARDA collaborate to help farmers use water more efficiently

As all farmers know, water is precious, and throughout much of Pakistan, this vital resource is in short supply. On October 27 and 28, top Pakistani and U.S. experts in water and agriculture came together to address this serious issue facing Pakistani agriculture. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has partnered with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and 11 Pakistani institutions on a project to demonstrate and disseminate best practices and technologies in watershed rehabilitation and irrigation improvement to help rural Pakistani farmers. The $3.3 million, 4 ½ year project, begun in 2011, strengthens the capacity of Pakistani agricultural institutions to show farmers ways to better capture and store water, reduce the loss of water or soil, and more efficiently water crops.

“By combining some old and new technologies, Pakistan’s farmers can lead the way to wise water use at home and on farmland,” said USDA National Conservation Technology Specialist Cheryl Simmons.
The two-day, fourth annual project meeting highlighted technologies and practices such as solar-powered drip irrigation, simple drip bucket irrigation, planting on raised beds and ridges, and on-farm water storage methods. The gathering also focused on innovative ways to share these practices with farmers, such as short instructional videos, farmer field days, and professional trainings.

“The watershed and irrigation improvement project has created a lot of awareness among farmers, professionals, and policy makers about techniques for efficient water use,” commented Dr. Abdul Majid, Country Manager for ICARDA in Pakistan.
USDA and ICARDA work in partnership across the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with two provincial agricultural research institutes, three Pakistani universities, three institutes of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), a provincial agricultural extension department, the Pakistan Council of Research on Water Resources (PCRWR), and a Pakistani agricultural NGO. Through this project, technical experts from USDA visit Pakistan to provide trainings and technical consultations to Pakistani partners, who then conduct demonstration and dissemination activities with local farmers.