The Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) on Saturday said the establishment of Salma Dam was an important move forward to leverage the economy of Herat and to boost the agriculture sector in the province.
The statement comes just hours after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially inaugurated Salma Dam - the multi-million dollar hydroelectric project - in Herat.The dam was built and funded by India at a cost of $300 million USD.
Meanwhile, economic commentators have asked government to work towards establishing similar dams in other regions of the country to boost the national economy.The dam, which is 20 km in length and three kilometers in width, has a water storage capacity of 640 million cubic meters.
This will be utilized to generate 43 megawatts of electricity for 40,000 families and will irrigate 80,000 hectares of farmland, belonging to 50,000 families."Salma Dam needs to be used properly, sufficient water should be provided to us according to our needs, because we depend on water; the ministry of agriculture and irrigation needs water, so sufficient water should be provided to farmers in Herat," said Inamullah Safai, head of Herat agriculture department.
Economic analysts said the inauguration of the dam will help farmers in the province to overcome the issue of water shortage."Electricity production is one of the small aspects of the Salma Dam, but key objectives of the dam need to be considered, expectations from government is to conduct accurate planning to ensure proper utilization of Salma Dam for the agriculture sector, because Afghanistan is an agricultural country and the country needs to develop this sector," agriculture expert Sakhi Mohammadi said.
"In some areas there is water, but there is no agricultural land, but in some areas where the land is suitable for agriculture, there is no water, now it depends on government on how it manage to use Afghanistan's water resources for economic development," another expert Lutfullah Safai said.According to MAIL, Afghanistan has 7.5 million hectares of agricultural land available, however only 2.5 percent of this land is currently useable due to a water shortage.