ISLAMABAD  - Despite several water storage projects are under way but owing to their gestation period, no significant addition has been made in water availability in the country, which is widening supply demand gap.

An official working in ministry of National Food Security told Online that being the lifeline of all agricultural activities, water was very crucial to achieve the agricultural growth targets. Despite strenuous efforts the water availability is either stagnant or dwindling. During fiscal year 2011-12 an amount of 137.1 million acre feet (MAF) became available by the contributions of both water sources i.e. surface water 86.9 MAF and ground water 50.2 MAF against estimated availability of 140.5 MAF.

The official said the main reason of the low availability was decrease in contribution by ground water because of high diesel and electricity prices. Below normal temperature in April and May 2012 slowed down the glacier melt process thus further squeezing the surface water supply for Kharif season crops of 2012. Keeping in view the developments in the water sector, around 142 MAF water would become available in 2012-13 for agriculture use.

The agriculture sector is a major consumer of energy in Pakistan, particularly for the extensive tube well network across the country. About one fourth of the existing tube wells use electricity for operation, whereas remaining three forth are diesel fuel operated. In both categories it is becoming increasingly expensive to keep them functional as most of the pumps operate at only thirty percent efficiency.

Official further told that frequent increases in electric power tariff and price of imported diesel are augmenting the cost of crop production.

There is a need to invest in alternative energy sources and high efficiency irrigation system to sustain the irrigated agriculture of the country.