The main objective of irrigation systems is to help agricultural crop growth and landscape maintenance and to reduce the effect of inadequate rainfall. The importance of irrigation systems in the agriculture sector is very high as it is vital to the efficiency of farmers and the growth of crops. As income and employment in the agri sector are closely related to the output of crops, effective irrigation systems contribute to increased crop production and farmer safety.
Pakistan’s irrigation system is responsible for more than 90 per cent of the country’s agricultural output. It contributes 20% to the country’s GDP and employs over 50% of the overall province’s workforce. Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, and the irrigation system is a key and the sole source of food production in the country and cultivates about 80% of the country’s cultivable land.
Most agricultural output comes from farmlands irrigated by the Indus Basin Irrigation System (IBIS). It is regarded as one of the best irrigation systems in the world, having progressed from traditional lift irrigation to modernised canal systems throughout the centuries.
Despite being the most extensive irrigation system, IBIS lacks proper infrastructure, resulting in slow agricultural productivity and food shortage. It lacks a viable disposal system causing water logging and salinity problems, lack of modern irrigation techniques and farming practices, and insufficient funds from the government etc.
Considering the importance and necessity of a high-efficiency irrigation system, the government has allocated Rs16.6 billion in Budget 2022-23 for improving the country’s irrigation system. With financial assistance from the World Bank, the government aims to improve the irrigation system under the Sindh Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Enhancement Project (SIAPEP).
SIAPEP’s implementation will assist in improving water courses and installing high-efficiency irrigation systems to conserve the scarce water resource and increase crop productivity to mitigate the issue of food security.
The government is also focusing on providing Heavy earth moving machinery and drilling rig machines to the farmers on a subsidised rent for better production. In conclusion, these steps will result in significant increases in agricultural productivity.