Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL, formerly the Agriculture Development Bank of Pakistan), has been the sole agriculture development financing institution in Pakistan. The Bank is catering to the banking and financing needs of small farmers and agriculturists of the country along with dissemination of technology and technical knowhow being its prime mandate.
ZTBL has already developed more than 50 model villages (display centers) exhibiting new technologies, cropping methods, and livestock breeds. ZTBL owns a model farm which displays fish farming, bee keeping, ostrich farming and tunnel farming to visitors.
Under the dynamic leadership of ZTBL President, Syed Talat Mahmood, especial emphasis has been laid for technology development which aims at capacity building of the country’s farming community, especially the small farmers.
The Bank has developed the ‘Farmers’ Training Pilot Project’, which is envisaged to run as pilot initially under technology development for capacity-building initiative, that will introduce the Permanent Raised Beds (PRB) technology, a known technology to boost agriculture productivity yields. With the PRB, ZTBL experts will train farmers and remain with them throughout the cropping cycle. Aside from crops, this project will also train dairy farmers.
PRB farming system aims at creating and maintaining seed beds with ideal physical and fertility conditions. The objective is to develop root zone for crops that absorbs rain and irrigation waters more quickly, and makes this easily available to plants. The PRB system retains nutrients from the soil by keeping root materials of previous crops and by practicing minimal soil disturbances using the pre-seeding blade ploughing at 25cm depth (with zero soil inversion) and no tillage crop establishment, i.e., seeding crops with minimal cultivation only in the sown row/raised bed. Both operations retain the roots of the previous crops and do not expose soil organic matter to the atmosphere. Permanent raised beds implies that the bed stays in place for several seasons, in comparison with being ploughed down and reconstructed every season as with more intensive tillage systems.
ZTBL’s “Farmers’ Training Pilot Project” was recipient of Merit Award in the 2016 ADFIAP Outstanding Development Project under the Technology Development Category.