$2bn US investment in farm sector likely
ISLAMABAD: The United States will make an investment of $2
billion in the agriculture sector of Pakistan over a period
of five years (2010-2014) to address impending water crisis
to help the country improve profitability of agricultural
country’s agricultural sector which affects the livelihood
of 60 per cent of the population uses 90 per cent of
Pakistan’s water, according to the ‘Pakistan Assistance
Strategy Report’ of the State Department.
In an analysis, the
report says the management of the Indus Basin Irrigation
System, which sustains the agricultural sector, is reliant
on water flows from diminishing Himalayan glaciers and is so
inefficient that half the water is lost to seepage.
To avoid potential disruption in rural incomes and food
supplies from this pending water crisis, Pakistan urgently
needs investments in storage, canals and irrigation services
to improve water management.
“High impact, high visibility US agriculture programmes will
likely to include rehabilitation and expansion of irrigation
to help make Pakistan’s agricultural sector more stable and
profitable,” the report says.
Assistance will be implemented primarily through provincial
irrigation departments, thus helping build long-term
capacity at the sub-national government level to manage
water in a sustainable fashion.
In addition, Pakistan’s agricultural sector was missing
major revenue-generating opportunities and self-sustaining
export potential because of its poor storage infrastructure,
the strategy report notes.
Less than eight per cent of Pakistan’s produce is exported
due to inadequate cold storage facilities. Citing an example
in this regard, the report pointed out that an estimated 35
per cent of Pakistani mango crop rots before reaching any
US experts were exploring investments in cold storage
facilities that will leverage private sector capital
investment and increase the opportunities for exports of
mango, citrus and other horticulture. Such investments would
help stabilize the country’s rural economy, the report
The report says while the United States’ infrastructure
support will focus first on energy and agriculture
programmes, subsequent years of funding were intended to
also support activities in transport, health and education,
such as roads in the border region, a state-of-the-art
trauma centre in a vulnerable area or a centre of excellence
in a major university, which will serve a concrete need and
were indicative of the US long-term commitment to help
improve the lives of the Pakistani people.
The report explains that these efforts will not substitute
for ongoing investments in social services and capacity
development, but rather will provide visible symbols of US
efforts intended to address immediate needs of the Pakistani
people and to promote the country’s economic growth,
security and stability.
The US government has appointed Robin Raphel as
economic assistance coordinator in Pakistan to
closely supervise all assistance to the country to
coordinate the expanding assistance programmes.
In this regard, additional US staff has been
requested to manage an expanded programme operating
more through Pakistani institutions and in
The report reveals that additional operational
funding will be required to support the additional
staffing. Related investments in office and
residential infrastructure and transportation were
Given the paramount role, Pakistan’s provincial
governments play in designing, managing and
implementing programmes, US government staff will be
both in Islamabad and Peshawar, Karachi and Lahore.
As the lead and largest manager of assistance funds
among the US government agencies, USAID in
particular will significantly increase its project
management, legal, financial management, and
According to the report, Pakistani officials at all
levels will have the opportunity to provide input
into civilian assistance planning.
A US inter-agency team spent weeks in Islamabad
between October and November to review the
assistance strategy and met key officials of the
government at federal and provincial levels.
The report stated that procedures were currently
being developed with the government at both the
national and provincial levels for channelling
resources through governmental agencies with the
capacity to implement programmes effectively.
Implementation letters for the provincial
governments have been drafted and were under review.
In the meantime, the USAID Mission in Pakistan has
also begun conducting pre-award surveys of
governmental and non-governmental institutions that
will likely be recipients of US assistance
Courtesy: The DAWN