The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations will help enhance the climate resilience of Pakistan’s agriculture and water sectors benefitting up to 3 million farmers through the Climate Smart Agriculture project.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard was signed between the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Country Representative Minà Dowlatchahi and Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) Secretary Naheed Shah Durrani in Islamabad on Friday.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said that around 3 million farmers of Sindh and Southern Punjab stand to benefit from the project, which will be implemented in eight districts of the country.

Aslam said that Pakistan has managed to secure around $35 million in grants from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to implement this project and that this was perhaps the first such project in the world to introduce climate smart agriculture. Moreover, he said that the provinces will contribute around $12 million to execute the project.

“Pakistan is amongst those countries which are most affected due to climate change and its agriculture sector has faced the adverse impact of environmental degradation as changes in weather patterns have disturbed harvesting cycles and sowing practices in the country,” he said.

The climate change adviser further said that the project would be implemented as a pilot programme in eight districts of the country, including five in the fertile belt of Southern Punjab and three in Sindh. Of the estimated three million farmers who stand to benefit, two million will be indirect beneficiaries of the project, while another million will stand to receive direct advantages from the programme, he added.

“We will draw lessons from this project and the successful practices adopted to educate and train farmers would be replicated across the country to improve watering practices, sowing of diverse crops and adopting multi-dimensional approach in line with the objectives of developing climate change impacts in the region,” he added.

Aslam said the project will help solve the climate crisis faced by farmers as per the recommendations of the country’s research on Climate Smart Agriculture, which had been launched at the 24th Conference of Parties (COP) in Poland.

FAO officials at the occasion said that these projects will be initiated simultaneously across all designated districts. It will primarily help the country’s cotton belt which was facing serious stress due to shift in climatic patterns.