The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved an $18.28 million grant for a project to enhance agricultural productivity in the Panj-Amu river basin in northeast Afghanistan.

The grant will aid the Panj–Amu river basin project to improve access to water and enhance the resilience of watersheds to disaster and climate risks by expanding project activities in the provinces of Badakhshan, Kunduz, and Takhar.

It will also improve water access and management in the provinces of Samangan, Baghlan, Bamiyan, Panjshir, Parwan, and Wardak.

According to ADB, the aid will help in the expansion of forestry and rangeland protection from 10,000 hectares to 27,760 hectares, which will support water availability to rural households for irrigation.

“Agriculture remains a major engine of growth for Afghanistan and plays an important role in improving the lives of the Afghan people,” said ADB Senior Project Officer Mohammad Hanif Ayubi.

“This additional financing will help Afghanistan in its recovery from COVID-19 by improving water availability for irrigated agriculture and creating more employment opportunities for rural communities.”

The Panj–Amu River Basin is a major production centre for wheat, rice, vegetables, and fruit. Increasing agricultural productivity in the area is expected to help address food insecurity and increase per capita incomes in rural communities.

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