KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah on Friday directed the agriculture department to take necessary measures to steer the small growers out of poverty by introducing new cropping patterns and introducing small crops which are cultivated within three months. He was presiding over a meeting of agriculture department at the Chief Minister House on Friday. Those who attended the meeting include Senior Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah, Chief Secretary Siddique Memon, Secretary Agriculture Shahid Gulzar Shaikh and others.

Briefing the meeting about the World Bank assisted Sindh Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Enhancement Project (SIAPEP), Secretary Agriculture Shahid Gulzar said it was a five-year programme from 2016 to 2021 of worth Rs30.13 billion

Talking about the objectives of the project, he said it was aimed at improving agriculture productivity of small and medium size farmers cultivation by taking necessary measures such as lining of watercourses up to 30 percent of the total length, provision of farmers community flood shelters, introduction and expansion of high efficiency irrigation system, training of farmers in improved agriculture practices, including integrated pest management, irrigation agronomy, provision of laser land leveling and deep ripping equipment for deep plugging and training in improved agronomic practices. He added the capacity-building and training of departmental staff would be conducted.

To a question, Gulzar said under the project, 5,500 water courses would be improved at a cost of Rs9.22 billion during the five-year programme. Under the watercourse improvement, 76 percent funding would be given by the World Bank while 24 percent share would be borne by the farmers. He added the other component of the project is mitigation of flood risk for the poor under which 380 shelter home and cattle shades would be constructed with Rs1.1 billion. He said 2,600 units of High Efficiency Irrigation Systems would be installed to irrigate 35,000 acres at a cost of Rs5.7 billion. “We are also developing high efficiency demonstration sites under which 48 units for 240 acres kitchen gardening with high efficiency 10,000 kits would be provided to poor female farmers.” This project would cost Rs197.4 million but under the kitchen gardening project, female farmers would be able to solve the issue of their square meals within their home.

Giving progress of the project, Gulzar said 526 watercourses survey and design for improvement had been completed, 510 applications for provision of laser land leveling equipment had been received, 25 applications from the growers had also been received for installation of drip systems. The chief minister directed the secretary agriculture not to deviate from the procurement guidelines of the World Bank. Qaim directed him to develop all these projects in the larger interest for our agro-economy.