GILGIT (Staff Report) – WWF-Pakistan hosted the media launch of its new project ‘Enhancing the Value of Hydrological Resources for Livelihood, Youth Employability and Climate Resilience in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan’, that aims to promote high-efficiency use of water resources for food production and domestic consumption, develop high-value horticultural crops based on natural endowments and market opportunities (to improve livelihood) and conserving water to enhance community resilience against climate vulnerability.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Coca-Cola Foundation under the banner of New World Initiative have funded the project. Other project partners include the Mountain Agricultural Research Centre (MARC) of the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), GB Agriculture department, and Karakoram Natural Resource (Private) Limited – a local agro-based company.
According to Dr. Babar Khan, Senior Manager Conservation and Head Gilgit-Baltistan Region, ‘Gilgit-Baltistan is a region where hardly two per cent of land is available for agriculture.
In order to alleviate poverty and ensure food security, the project will promote sustainable use of water resources, and introduce better fruit and crop varieties, and high efficiency drip irrigation system, which will improve the livelihoods of mountain people’.
The project aims to demonstrate high-efficiency irrigation technologies i.e. drip irrigation system; introduce high productive new varieties of crops; develop value chains for high-value mountain horticulture produce; increasing plantations with fodder species to secure vulnerable catchments; training of nursery owners, local farmers and youth in nursery management; high production; processing and value addition technologies.
The project will benefit local farmers, male and female youth, nursery operators, local communities, research institutions i.e. PARC/MARC, government departments and private entities and contribute to improved access to water for drinking and irrigation; improved livelihood; food security and income generation opportunities, especially for small land holder farming families; employability for educated local youth in agricultural sector; training and skill development; building technical and institutional capacities to tap economic benefits of the upcoming China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.