Pakistan – priorities for Pakistan Agriculture by 2030
Dr Zahoor Aslam has submitted the attached paper on priorities for Pakistan Agriculture by 2030 which can be read here.
Pakistan community Landcare briefing October 2012
On returning to Pakistan from the Sydney National Landacre Conference Ajaz Rana and Dr Zahoor Aslam held a successful community meeting in Ajaz’ home village. This meeting built on earlier work of the successful saline agriculture project but it was the first meeting under the banner of landcare.
Dr Aslam reported that the outcome of the meeting as following:
a) Organize and register a formal land care community group with elected office bearers.
b) Start with a small village office for record keeping.
c) Make a plan for improvement of winter cereals and organize quality inputs on collective basis.
d) If possible start a nursery for trees to be planted in spring next year
e) Reduce spending of money on events of marriages and deaths. Farmers spend a lot of money on meals for family and friends on such occasions. Money so saved can be used on productive events like health and education of children.
f) Initiate a campaign for cleanliness in the village starting with an improved system for waste water disposal. You would laugh that toilets are a luxury for most of the villagers in Pakistan and India. It is worth mentioning here that an influential person in India has started a campaign for building toilets. His slogan is “India needs more toilets than temples”.
g) Increase awareness on the issue of injecting chemical waste water into ground water or spraying such water on earthen paths in field areas by some unscrupulous local industries.
Pakistan delegates attending the National Landcare Conference in Sydney 2012
Reports and information below have been provided by Dr Zahoor Aslam* and Mr Mubarak Yaqub**, which give insight into their recent work.
* Dr Zahoor Aslam is Soil Scientist turned Environmentalist. He completed his PhD from the University of Western Australia in Environmental Physiology.
** Mubarak Yacub, M.Sc. / M.Phill. is an Agricultural and Soil Scientist.
Pakistan has a large variety of landscapes; many of which are subject to land degradation. Common forms of land degradation include soil erosion, soil salinization/sodication, waterlogging, soil structure and fertility depletion, surface sedimentation and permanent soil loss. Land care programs are urgently needed in all parts of the country for combating different types of land degradation and increased desertification.
The salinity problem
The Indus Basin is the most important physiographic unit from an agriculture point of view and includes much of the prime agricultural land in the country. The soils are alluvial deposits and are of high potential fertility. Combined with the local climate the area is excellent for growing a variety of crops all year round. The salinity problem is however restricting the pace of agricultural development in the Indus Basin. Overall, about six million hectares of land in Pakistan is affected by moderate to severe salinity problems.
Saline Agriculture Farmer Participatory Development Project in Pakistan (SAFPDP)
Research and development work conducted over the last three decades has led to the development of methods for economically utilizing salt-affected soils and brackish ground water, commonly known as “Saline Agriculture” technology. Saline Agriculture scientists concerned with addressing the issues of reduced farm incomes and sustainability of agriculture in saline environments have always worked closely with individual farmers. However, formal Saline Agriculture development work in Pakistan began in 2002 with the commencement of the “Saline Agriculture Farmer Participatory Development Project in Pakistan” (SAFPDP) which ran for six years as a large outreach community program. The project was implemented in five different areas in four provinces of Pakistan, representing almost all parts of the Indus Basin. The mandate of SAFPDP was to help identify salinity associated problems on private farms and to initiate participatory development processes leading to rehabilitation of farming communities and thus encourage farmers to ultimately solve their problems on their own by improving their perception of the needs for land care and enhancing their skills, capabilities and capacities accordingly.
Initial surveys indicated that the salt affected areas had very low crop production and many socio-economic problems. Majority of the people did not have access to education, basic health facilities, clean drinking water and other basic amenities of life. Soil salinity had also badly affected infrastructure with buildings and roads crumbling prematurely.
SAFPDP arranged training programs on Saline Agriculture and relevant technologies for both field officers and farmers. The project also concentrated on group creation “Saline Agriculture Farmer Associations” (SAFAs), through a participatory model utilizing adult learning. SAFAs were provided with several skill development training courses. SAFPDP promoted a shift from a production model to the broader recognition of the value of land care through empowering SAFAs to have a positive role in salinity and other land care issues. The focus of SAFAs was firmly on practical ways to provide special care to land while economically utilizing saline soil and brackish ground water.
Cropping systems on saline marginal land were improved with the use of salt- tolerant crop varieties, judicious use of soil and water amendments and improved agronomic/irrigation practices. As a result, yield of field crops rose sharply: wheat yield from 1.0-1.2 to 2.2-2.5, rice from 1.6-1.8 to 2.5-2.75, cotton from 1.2-1.5 to 2.5-3.0, and sugarcane from 35-40 to 48-55 tons per ha. The forage production systems were diversified and yields increased in the case of all forage crops. SAFPDP also acted as a conduit for relevant departments in introducing biogas technology and improving water channels and streets/roads in the project areas. With Saline Agriculture interventions, plant production and, thus income of farmers increased substantially, contributing towards food security and poverty alleviation at the project sites. Chemical properties of soils also improved with Saline Agriculture interventions.
A recent monitoring and evaluation visit to the project observed that SAFPDP revolutionized agriculture production and prosperity level of resident communities.
Land care programs in Pakistan can be best executed by adopting participatory approaches and ensuring that such programs can provide both economic and environmental benefits.
For more information on this project please contact Dr Zahoor Aslam, email:firstname.lastname@example.org