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    18 irrigation networks being rehabilitated: Rahimi

    KABUL (PAN): With implementation of On-Farm Water Management Project (OFWMP), a $41 million scheme, agricultural production would increase by 15 percent nationwide, an official said on Saturday.

    Agriculture and Livestock Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi said he had signed contracts on the rehabilitation of 18 irrigation networks under OFWMP with private reconstruction firms in Kabul.

    The networks in Kabul, Nangarhar and Balkh provinces would cost 53.6 million afghanis, the minister said, adding the World Bank (WB)-funded programme, targeting 175 irrigation networks, would be implemented through his ministry's budget over the next three years. The networks irrigate 52,000 hectares of land in various provinces.

    Rahimi said the project would help keep 15 percent water resources from being going waste besides enhancing agricultural productions by 15 percent and bringing more areas under irrigation.

    He said preserving water resources and their management were crucial for future development hopes of Afghanistan's people.

    Rahimi also said his ministry planned launching awareness programmes about use of water, improved quality seeds and irrigation methods.  The agriculture ministry says 8 million hectares of land is arable in the country.

    Meanwhile, some lawmakers said such projects were badly required to develop the country's agriculture sector and water management.

    “Sooner or later, the world is going to fight over water resources. One thing that has no value in Afghanistan is water. We are glad that the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has taken the initiative to save water. We are thankful and we fully support it,” said Shinkay Karokhail, a Wolesi Jirga member.

    Another lawmaker from Logar, Eng. Sahib Khan said: "Water management is like managing of our lives which rely on access to water."

    Insecurity in Afghanistan has been behind poor management of water resources that could be preserved with construction of Kamal Khan and Salma dams and benefiting from Helmand river, another lawmaker, Mohammad Daud Kalakani, said.