PESHAWAR    -   The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Government has decided to construct 32,000 watercourses with allocation of Rs50 billion during next four years to bolster agriculture and food production in the province. Provincial Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Mohibullah Khan told APP that Government has developed an Integrated Agriculture Development Program (IADP) with a record allocation of Rs85 billion under which 32,000 watercourses costing Rs50 billion would be constructed by 2023.

He informed that about 75,000 irrigation watercourses were currently available in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa out of which only 25,000 were constructed during last 73 years. The Minister said the department has taken a principle decision to construct the remaining watercourses to control wastage of water besides provide smooth irrigated water to the tail end farmers. Mohibullah Khan said the government has started work on mega program to utilise the water of Gomal Zam dam in South Waziristan for irrigation of thousands acres barren lands in southern districts including Tank, DI Khan, Lakki Marwat and erstwhile Fata. The minister said the main canal of Gomal Zam dam has been made operational in which irrigation water was released with capacity to irrigate one lakh acres land in these areas.

He maintained that work on the dam’s second canal has been accelerated that after completion would irrigate another one lakh acres barren and infertile land in South Waziristan and southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “I have talked to Chief Minister KP, Federal Minister for Water Resources and Wapda authorities with a request for early completion of the second canal keeping in view of its enormous economic and agriculture benefits,” he said, adding they have assured full cooperation in this regard. The minister said PTI Government has accorded highest priority to agriculture and livestock sectors by significantly increasing its budget to fulfill food requirements of the ever growing population.

He said about Rs47 billion were spent by 11 Directorate Generals Offices of this department during last 70 years whereas the PTI Government would spend Rs 85 billion during next four years, which speaks our strong commitment towards promotion of agriculture, livestock and cooperative sectors for benefits of masses. He said a multifaceted integrated agriculture program worth Rs85 billion has been developed aimed at to bolster agricultural productivity, strengthen livestock and food security programs in the province. The program would enhance overall agricultural production of all major crops including wheat, rice, sugarcane and maize besides tackling problems of malnutrition, desertification, land degradations, drought and climate change on sound footings.

He said the department has started work on IADP program in 11 agriculture related sectors under which focus are being made on construction of watercourses, stopping of water wastage, prevention of soil erosion, strengthening of poultry farming, solarization of tube wells and construction of small dams for conservation of water resources in the province.

The projects in 11-agriculture sectors that would be initiated including enhancement of wheat, rice and sugarcane production, construction of watercourses, water and soil conservation, solorization of tube-wells, strengthening of poultry farming, livestock, fattening of calves, construction of small and mini check dams in the province.  

To prevent wastage of water and soil erosion in rainy areas, the minister said small dams would be constructed in potential areas for an effective conservation of soil and water resources in the province.

He said Rs13 billion would be spent on water conservation programs during next four years.

Mohibullah said poultry farming was being strengthened and a principal decision has been taken to distribute “five hens and one rooster” among widows, orphans and poor people to increase their income besides allievate poverty in rural areas.

He said conservation of Azakheli buffalo has been started in Malakand division and their population was increased due to effective conservation and breeding programs in the province.

It pertinent to mention here that population of Azakheli buffalos were significantly decreased in Malakand division due to 2010 devastated floods and 2009 unrest in Swat district.

The Minister said conservation program of Azakheli buffalo would help enhance milk and meat productions in the province.