WB approves $171m for agri uplift in KP.

ISLAMABAD -- The World Bank (WB) approved US $171 million to support agricultural productivity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), by improving irrigation, strengthening small farmers' skills, and supporting farmers to add value to their products.

According to the WB, farmers in KP face challenges of low water use efficiency and lack modern technology, skills and knowledge to engage in high value agriculture value chains. This results in an underdeveloped rural economy with high vulnerability to climate changes. The KP Irrigated Agriculture Improvement Project will help address these challenges by rehabilitating community watercourses; establishing water users' associations; introducing high efficiency irrigation systems and laser land leveling; strengthening farmers' technical skills, and filling knowledge gaps on agriculture market opportunities and constraints.

'Agriculture accounts for a fifth of Pakistan's economy and employs nearly half the labor force in the country,' said Illango Patchamuthu, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. 'This project will boost the rural economy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by benefiting millions of small farmers to diversify crops, improve productivity and increase household incomes.'

Most of the project beneficiaries will be smallholder farmers with less than 5 hectares (12.5 acres) of land, who account for 96 percent of all farmers in KP.

Approximately 150,000 farm families (around 1.1 million people) will benefit directly from the project, mainly through community watercourse improvements, the statement said adding that in addition, about 5,000 families will...

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