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Saturday March 02, 2024

US to help Pakistani farmers reduce pollution, lower costs

US and Pakistan concluded the second meeting of the Climate and Environment Working Group here on Thursday

By News Desk
March 17, 2023
In this picture taken on September 1, 2022 a labourer picks cotton in a field at Sammu Khan Bhanbro village in Sukkur, Sindh province. The rains that began in June have unleashed powerful floods across the country that have washed away swathes of vital crops and damaged or destroyed more than a million homes. — AFP/File
In this picture taken on September 1, 2022 a labourer picks cotton in a field at Sammu Khan Bhanbro village in Sukkur, Sindh province. The rains that began in June have unleashed powerful floods across the country that have washed away swathes of vital crops and damaged or destroyed more than a million homes. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The United States will launch $4.5 million (Rs1.27 billion) “Fertilizer Right” programme in Pakistan to help farmers use fertilizers efficiently, besides helping Islamabad to conserve the country’s national parks.

The US and Pakistan concluded the second meeting of the Climate and Environment Working Group here on Thursday where it was decided that the US Army Corps of Engineers will immediately begin sharing snowpack assessments with several Pakistan government agencies to strengthen the flood forecasting capacity.

Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman and the US Department of State’s Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Monica Medina led the delegations, says a statement issued by the US Embassy in Islamabad.

Officials and experts engaged on climate and environment issues, including climate change, energy transition, water management, climate-smart agriculture, air quality, biodiversity and waste management, including plastics recycling.

The delegations discussed the impacts of devastating floods in Pakistan in 2022 and emphasised the importance of building resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The United States expressed support for Pakistan’s “Living Indus” initiative to restore the ecological health of the Indus River Basin in Pakistan. The two governments recommitted to tackling the climate crisis through cooperation on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Both the governments resolved to continue deepening their bilateral partnership through the US-Pakistan “Green Alliance” framework. The “Green Alliance” will help Pakistan and the US jointly face the climate, environmental, and economic needs of the present and future, especially through partnership on agriculture, water and clean energy.

Regarding agriculture, the delegations discussed the importance of adopting modern farming practices and innovative seed varieties to bolster resilience against climate change.

On water management, the two governments identified technical assistance, governance, and water efficiency mechanisms as areas ripe for cooperation. They emphasised the importance of supporting nature-based solutions and building community resilience to climate change.

The US and Pakistan also acknowledged their long history of working together to advance sustainable economic growth. For example, in the 1960s, the United States supported Pakistan’s “Green Revolution” to improve agricultural crop yields and strengthen food security. The delegations committed to advance future cooperation in agriculture, water and energy transition through the US-Pakistan “Green Alliance” framework.

Through the Climate and Environment Working Group, the two governments made new commitments to partner together. The United States announced new programmes in Pakistan, including a $4.5 million programme from the US Department of Agriculture, to strengthen fertilizer efficiency and effectiveness for Pakistani farmers.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced new activities in Pakistan to promote climate-smart agriculture and climate finance. The US Army Corps of Engineers will start sharing weather data on glacial melt with the Ministry of Climate Change and other local stakeholders to strengthen Pakistan’s flood forecasting and disaster response capabilities.

Pakistan informed the United States about the approval of its new National Clean Air Policy and explained its recent waste management actions, including on plastics.

Both the countries also pledged to collaborate on a successful year as the 2023 Co-chairs of the Green Climate Fund Board.

At the end of the US-Pakistan Climate and Environment Working Group talks, the embassy also issued a fact sheet.

Fertilizer Efficiency: The U.S. Department of Agriculture will launch the “Fertilizer Right” programme in Pakistan in 2023, a four-year, $4.5 million project with local partners to help Pakistani farmers use fertilizer more efficiently and effectively, reducing environmental pollution and lowering costs for farmers.

Real-Time Flood Forecasting: The US Army Corps of Engineers will immediately begin sharing snowpack assessments with several Pakistan government agencies to strengthen flood forecasting capacity. These assessments use satellite imagery and algorithms to estimate snow-covered areas and snowpack water volumes in five major watersheds in Pakistan: Upper Indus, Kabul, Chenab, Sutlej, and Lower Indus.

Reducing Carbon Emissions: USAID’s efforts have so far helped Pakistan prevent 55 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions since 2017, helping the country achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

Climate Smart Agriculture: USAID will launch a new, five-year Climate Smart Agriculture programme in Pakistan in 2023 to strengthen the resilience of Pakistani farming communities facing climate change. The activity will facilitate climate-smart farm management practices, increase the use of digital technology, and help grow Pakistani agricultural technology firms.

Climate Finance Accelerator: USAID will launch a Climate Finance Development Accelerator programme in 2023 to mobilise domestic and international finance for expanding clean energy in Pakistan. It will also catalyse investments for climate mitigation and adaptation efforts through policy reform, awareness raising, and enhancing the role of the private sector.

Carbon Credit Market: USAID will provide technical assistance to help the Government of Pakistan scale up its Voluntary Carbon Market, easing the tracking and trade of carbon credits.

Green Shipping: USAID will facilitate a round-table in Karachi in 2023 around the future of “green” shipping in Pakistan. The roundtable will include Pakistani officials, private sector leaders and technical experts to identify opportunities for Pakistan to strengthen its future economic competitiveness by preparing for zero-emission shipping operations at its ports.

Methane Abatement: The US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will support a Pakistani delegation to travel to the United States and join oil, gas, and other sector leaders from emerging economies to meet with US industry, financial institutions, and policy experts that can help advance their methane emissions reduction and energy security goals. USAID will also partner with the private sector on reducing methane emissions in Pakistan’s dairy sector. The project will pilot new interventions to identify effective options for emissions reductions, such as changes in animal feed, reproductive health, and manure management.

US Expert on Protecting Natural Areas: The US National Park Service will send a senior park management official to visit Islamabad in 2023 to speak about conservation and engage with officials from Pakistan’s National Parks on best practices for managing protected natural areas.

Pakistan International Visitor Leader Programmes (IVLPs): The US government will offer Pakistani professionals the opportunity to travel to the United States in 2024 to participate in two IVLP exchange programmes related to environmental topics. These single-country programmes consist of 10-12 Pakistanis per project. One IVLP will focus on promoting climate-smart agriculture technologies and practices in Pakistan. The other will help Pakistan strengthen preparedness for natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and earthquakes.

Green Videogaming Challenge: USAID will launch “Green Gaming Challenge” grants in 2023, seeking applications from Pakistan videogame developers and entrepreneurs that are passionate about mitigating the negative impacts of climate change. The games will promote sustainable practices and raise awareness about environmental issues.

Biofuels from Cattle Waste: The USTDA is funding a feasibility study grant to improve environmental conditions and waste management practices in Karachi by using advanced technology to convert cattle waste into biomethane – a renewable natural gas – and fertilizer.

Environmentally Conscious Design: The US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) will incorporate environmentally conscious designs into infrastructure projects in Pakistan, including the installation of solar panels and external solar lights in the Balochistan Police Training College in Quetta, eight border check-posts, and two training centers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Pakistan-US Alumni Network: The Pakistan-US Alumni Network (PUAN) selected “Climate Change: Protecting Local Communities” as its 2023 country project to be held across all 14 regional chapters in 2023. This project will strengthen Pakistan’s climate resilience. The PUAN is the largest US government exchange alumni network in the world, with 39,000 members.

US-Pakistani University Partnerships: The US Embassy is currently funding $1.5 million over three grants for US-Pakistani educational partnership on climate and environment, including: (1) University of Oregon and Karakoram International University for research on climate change in Gilgit-Baltistan; (2) North Carolina State University with three Pakistani universities to establish a climate change consortium; and (3) University of Nebraska and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University to build the capacity of women faculty to instruct on climate change.

Current US Department of State Notices of Funding Opportunity: (1) Regional Consortium of Student Societies on Climate Change (involving Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka); (2) Raise Awareness and Inspire Action on Environmental Protection in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; (3) Capacity Building of Journalists on Environmental Issues.