US announces $4.5m new programme for farmers


ISLAMABAD: The United States Thursday announced a $4.5 million new programme to strengthen fertilizer efficiency and effectiveness for Pakistani farmers, and the two sides expressed their recommitment to tackling climate crisis through cooperation, mitigation and adaptation.

The second meeting of the Pakistan-US Climate and Environment Working Group was held in Islamabad on Thursday. 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.

According to a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the meeting, 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.

It stated that the delegations discussed the impacts of the devastating floods in Pakistan in 2022 and emphasized 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 governments resolved to continue deepening their bilateral partnership through the US-Pakistan “Green Alliance” framework,” according to the joint statement.

It added that the “Green Alliance” will help Pakistan and the US jointly face the climate, environmental, and economic needs of the present and future, especially through partnerships on agriculture, water, and clean energy.

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

On water management, the joint statement added that the two governments identified technical assistance, governance, and water efficiency mechanisms as areas ripe for cooperation. “Both governments emphasized the importance of supporting nature-based solutions and building community resilience to climate change,” it stated, adding that the United States and Pakistan also acknowledged their long history of working together to advance sustainable economic growth.

For example, in the 1960s, the statement added that the US 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,” it added.

Through the Climate and Environment Working Group, the two governments made new commitments to partner together, it stated, adding that the US announced new programs in Pakistan, including a $4.5 million program 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, it further stated.

It added that Pakistan informed the US about the approval of its new National Clean Air Policy and explained its recent waste management actions, including on plastics. “The United States and Pakistan also pledged to collaborate on a successful year as the 2023 Co-chairs of the Green Climate Fund Board,” it added. In a roundtable discussion with a group of journalists at the US Embassy after the meeting, the US Department of State’s Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Monica Medina said that Pakistan is a “very important” partner of the US and the two sides are working closely on tackling the challenges posed by climate change.

She said that plastic pollution has posed grave environmental hazards in Pakistan that need to be tackled, adding that it was astonishing to see that there are 6,000 plastic bag manufacturing factories in Pakistan.

She said that she would be visiting flood-hit areas in Sindh today (Friday) and also holding meetings with the communities affected by the recent devastating floods.

About the “Fertilizer Right” program, she said that it is 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.

On the real-time flood forecasting, she said that 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.