BEIJING: Irrigation solutions promoted by a Chinese company have proved a success in demonstration zones in Pakistan. But a lack of investments has made it hard to popularise the efficient irrigation solutions, said Li Huijuan, senior engineer at National Water-saving Irrigation Engineering and Technology Research Center (Xinjiang) and manager of the International Water-saving Department at Xinjiang Tianye Group. This view is echoed by Dr Gong Shihong, Deputy-Director of Department of Irrigation and Drainage, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR). A single company is too vulnerable to transform the entire sector. The Pakistani government should incentivise more companies to invest in the popularisation of efficient irrigation solutions, said Dr Gong, who led a delegation to hold training sessions on high efficient irrigation in Pakistan. A second factor lies in the limited range of efficient irrigation solutions available in Pakistan, Ms Li told CEN. Although the government of Punjab has worked with World Bank to subsidise small-scale farmers to install sprinklers and drip irrigation systems, enormous farmers still refrain from adopting such efficient irrigation systems because of the high maintenance costs ensued. Ms Li explained, Pakistani farmers tend to use irrigation accessories such as drip tapes and drippers from European countries, which is six times the cost of Chinese solutions and is beyond the price range of the farmers. Pipes need to be removed for ploughing and land preparing prior to each crop and this puts a heavy burden on the farmers who already struggle financially to install the irrigation system, Dr Gong further elaborated. In essence, there has been a lack of communication between Chinese and Pakistani enterprises in this regard. To motivate more farmers to use efficient irrigation solutions and further popularise the “more crop per drop” efficient irrigation campaign in Pakistan, more affordable and desirable high efficient irrigation solutions should be introduced to the Pakistani market. The key lies in boosting the communication between Chinese and Pakistani irrigation companies, said Dr Gong. “Chinese high efficient irrigation solutions hold great potential to help popularise the drip irrigation in Pakistan. Chinese irrigation tapes will greatly bring down the maintenance costs of the drip system which requires regular maintenance. Unlike European machines, our irrigation systems are relatively easier to operate because we adapt the machines to the needs and requirements of the farmers wherever possible.” Cooperation between Chinese and Pakistani irrigation companies in this regard will familiarise more farmers with affordable, desirable Chinese irrigation solutions and motivate more farmers to adopt efficient irrigation. Realising the importance of B2B communication, Xinjiang Tianye signed a strategic memorandum of understanding with the Fatima Group in October, 2019, Ms Li revealed. With the support of the Fatima Group, Tianye’s irrigation technologies have been introduced to Bela, Balochistan and are likely to find their way in more farmlands in the future, said Ms Li. Dr Gong said, an International Cooperation Office has been recently established by a Chinese water-saving association to facilitate and promote more such cooperation. The office will serve as a bridge between Chinese and Pakistani irrigation enterprises by exploring the needs of Pakistani people and companies and communicating them to Chinese companies so that they can provide customised irrigation solutions for Pakistan, commented Dr Gong. Government-level promotion will also be part of the answer to an efficient irrigation-oriented future. “In China’s case, the government promotes the efficient irrigation technology and encourages the investments from companies which in return introduce irrigation technologies to farmers. This cycle is further strengthened at later stages when the farmers relish in the advantages of the efficient irrigations and motivate companies to innovate themselves. This will hold true for Pakistan.” stated Dr Gong.