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PCRWR plans to expand scope of `Irrigation Advisory SMS Service for Farmers’

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Council for Research and Water Resources (PCRWR) has planned to expand the scope of `Irrigation Advisory SMS Service for the Farmers’ by increase the number of registered farmers from existing 20,000 up to 1, 00,000 soon.

The service was launched on April 18 2016, as an outcome of international collaboration extended
by University of Washington (UW) and NASA with an aim to help reduce overwatering and enhance
crop yields for Pakistani farmers.
The University of Washington is providing real-time daily Potential Evapotranspiration (ET) and precipitation for entire Pakistan using NASA’s remotely sensed data. PCRWR determined crop coefficients (Kc) for different crops in different agro-climatic zones of Pakistan.
“PCRWR has planned to extend its Irrigation Advisory Service to 1, 00,000 farmers now while
in the long run, the council envisions extending it to all farmers of irrigated areas through
international and national coordination”, Chairman PCRWR, Dr Muhammad Aslam Tahir stated
this while talking to APP.
The service has already been informing the farmers of 41 districts (irrigated areas) about their
net weekly irrigation requirements, considering Evapotranspiration (ET) and precipitation.
Dr. Aslam said around 90 percent of the water is consumed in the agriculture sector of the country
and most of it is wasted due to improper utilization.
The objective behind initiating this service was to conserve this water through educating farmers
about actual water requirement for their crops.
The farmers, through this service, get weekly information on how much water their crop is needed
and if there is chances of any rain or not during the next week.

The chairman said through this service, if they can even save only one percent of the whole will
be a big achievement for us and help overcome the looming threat of acute water scarcity
in the years to come.

He said, PCRWR is in contact with Telenor Telecom Company to utilize their service and existing database of farmers for providing irrigation advisory service to the maximum number of farmers.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) has also shown interest in capacity building of the technical staff
to be involved in this task, Dr. Aslam said. “We need to upgrade our system and require big
servers for this purpose”.

Federal Minister for Science and Technology has also written letters to chief secretaries of all the provinces on how we can enhance the coverage of this result oriented service across the country, he said.

A survey by the PCRWR found that farmers who used the text message alerts reported a 40 percent savings in water while their income has been doubled as they got more crops by applying the correct amount of water.

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