Drip Irrigation: Can Pakistan Make its Deserts Bloom?

Large tracts of desert in Cholistan, Kharan and Thar land lay barren in Pakistan today. Can some parts of these deserts be made to bloom given the worsening water crisis in the country with per capita water availability approaching 900 cubic meters? How does Pakistan improve long term food security for its growing population? The answer to both lies in efficient water management through effective drip irrigation.

Drip Irrigation 

What is Drip Irrigation:

Drip irrigation is a micro-irrigation system using tubing that saves water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly into the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface. It puts water directly into the roots and minimizes evaporation.

Water mixed with fertilizer is carried out through tubes which release a small amounts of water per minute directly to the roots of each plant. Precision watering cuts evaporation, run off, and waste.

More Crop Per Drop:

Agriculture uses over 90% of all available fresh water in Pakistan. "More crop per drop" program focuses on improving water use efficiency by promoting drip and sprinkler irrigation in agriculture in Pakistan.

The Punjab government started this effort with the World Bank with $250 million investment.  The World Bank is now providing additional $130 million financing for the Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement Program Phase-I.

The project is the Punjab Government's initiative called High-Efficiency Irrigation Systems (HEIS) to more than doubles the efficiency of water use. Under the project, drip irrigation systems have been installed on about 26,000 acres, and 5,000 laser leveling units have been provided. The additional financing will ensure completion of 120,000 acres with ponds in saline areas and for rainwater harvesting, and filtration systems for drinking water where possible, according to the World Bank.

Cost of Drip Irrigation System:

Most crops are not irrigated with the drip method due to higher costs. In the United States and Spain, where the technology is used most, it comprises 6.75 and 2.75 percent of the total irrigated area, respectively, according to the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage. Farmers are offered subsidies to encourage the use of drip irrigation in most countries as a way of conserving precious water.

Subsidies in Punjab, Pakistan:

Punjab provincial government is subsidizing up to 60% of the cost of installing new drip irrigation systems, according to Business Recorder newspaper.  Director General Agriculture (Water Management) Malik Muhammad Akram said that latest irrigation techniques ensure availability of water and fertilizer in time to the plants and it also ensure uniform supply of these two major ingredients to all the plants in a field. It helps attaining more per acre yield with minimum agricultural inputs, he added, according to the paper.

There's at least one example of public-private partnership to promote drip irrigation in Sheikhupura near Lahore. The installation has been carried out by Nestlé Pakistan in collaboration with the Government of Punjab, covering 40% and 60% of the farmer’s cost respectively. The Agricultural Efficiency Project was initiated in the year 2017 and has so far covered 109 acres of land in 2018 with an estimated 280 million liters of water saved, according to a Nestle press release.

Using drip irrigation, farmers can save up to 95% of water and reduce fertilizer use, compared to surface irrigation, according to Malik Mohammad Akram. In flood irrigation – the traditional method of agriculture in the region – a farmer uses 412,000 liters per acre, while using drip irrigation the same land can be irrigated with just 232,000 liters of water, he explained to Zofeen Ibrahim of The Third Pole that covers Asia's water crisis.

Success Stories:

Writing for The Third Pole,  Zofeen Ebrahim has cited a couple of success stories of farmers receiving Punjab government's drip irrigation subsidies: The stories of ex IT Engineer Hasan Abdullah and Infiniti Agro and Livestock Farm.

Hasan Abdulla is has planted an orchard on his 40-acre plot in Cholistan Desert. He has orange, lemon olive trees which are now fruiting three years after planting. He is among the first farmers experimenting with drip irrigation.While Abdullah was saving water, the cost of diesel for running water pump was proving astronomical. It would have been difficult for Abdullah to continue farming with drip irrigation had the government not announced an 80% subsidy on solar power plants for farmers in 2018. He promptly took it up.

Asif Riaz Taj, who manages Infiniti Agro and Livestock Farm in Bahawalpur, heard of Abdulla's drip irrigation project and paid him a visit. He like it and decided to follow the example.  Now in their fourth year, the Infiniti orchards have started fruiting over 70 acres. But it will not be before its sixth year, Taj said, that they will “break even”. The drip irrigation and solar plant was installed at a cost of PKR 25 million (USD 174,000), and the monthly running cost of this farm is almost PKR 4 million (USD 28,000).

Summary:

Pakistan faces a severe water crisis that threatens the nation's long term food security.  The country needs to expand area under cultivation while efficiently managing its precious water resources. It needs to make parts of its deserts bloom. The best way to do it efficient water management through effective drip irrigation. Such projects are expensive to implement. The Punjab government is offering up to 60% subsidy to farmers to encourage wider use of drip irrigation.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan Water Crisis: Facts and Myths 

Groundwater Depletion in Pakistan

Water Scarce Pakistan

Cycles of Drought and Floods in Pakistan

Pakistan to Build Massive Dams

Dust Bowl in Thar Desert Region

Dasht River in Balochistan




Comments

Riaz Haq said…
RAINFALL last year and this monsoon has filled Darawat Dam to a level where water flows could be released for irrigating the command area spread over 25,000 acres.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1350114


Since this command area is not connected with off-taking canal of the dam through watercourses, an ad-hoc arrangement has been made to ensure water supply at least to small farmers to enable them cultivate winter and summer crops. Farmers are using pipes to lift water downstream of the dam.

The dam, a federally funded project, was completed in August 2014 by a Chinese company. Its construction started during the previous government’s tenure in January 2010. It is located some 135 kilometres north-east of Karachi and 70km west of Hyderabad, and is built on Nai Baran, a hill torrent in Jamshoro district.

Spread over 10,500 acres, the dam’s reservoir area upstream lies in Jamshoro district with a storage capacity of 121,600 acre-feet.

At present, 33,000 acre-feet of water is available in the reservoir. The level, which was 50,800 acre-feet in August 2016, has dropped after flows were ensured for cultivation of onion and wheat crops during the last year. Presently, farmers are getting water for cotton and vegetable sowing.

Zahid Sheikh, superintending engineer at the Sindh irrigation department, says a study on the topography of the dam’s command area is under way to assess which kind of high efficiency system — sprinkler or drip — suits this rain-fed area considering the fact how water travels in the hilly terrain.

The irrigation department does not seem to take control of the dam even by early next year as it lacks expertise, officials say

While the Sindh government has to build an irrigation system, the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) is also in the process of bidding two pilot projects on 10 acres each to be connected with drip and sprinkler systems on farmers’ land to see results of per-acre productivity.

The dam’s project director, Iqbal Sheikh, says bidding is already under way for this purpose but it is not part of the whole project which stands completed. The pilot projects would be completed in one and a half years and would be monitored by Wapda.

The project is reported have hit by cost overruns, and Wapda is seeking a second revision of its PC-I, a project document which covers almost all aspects of the project.

The first revision of the PC-I was approved at Rs9.3 billion by the federal government after it was conceived at Rs3.175bn in September 2009. PC-I would now be revised at Rs11.67bn by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council.

An amount of Rs6.37 billion has been paid to the dam’s Chinese contractor whose liabilities have now accumulated. Sources say the federal government has earmarked Rs800m for the project under the current fiscal year’s Public Sector Development Programme.

Wapda has set up 73 outlets with a main line canal and three distributaries that can irrigate 25,000 acres on the right and left banks of the canal that has a designed discharge of 156 cubic feet per second (cusecs) and stretches over nearly 46km.

The entire command area is to be connected with watercourses to be built by the irrigation department. Smallholders say that with the current storage they are able to grow wheat and onion since October 2016.

Dasrat Kumar, a farmer of the area, says that presently more than 1,500 acres of land is being cultivated and the farmers’ produce finds its way to Karachi, mostly through the middleman as farmers get payment in advance to buy inputs.

Another elderly farmer, Noor Ahmed, says that the “rate of evaporation and water losses remains very high as our land in this hilly tract remains dry most of the year”.
Riaz Haq said…
4.557 Million Acre Feet of #Water Storage Capacity Added In #Pakistan in Last 10 Years. 2.880 MAF in #Mangla Raising, 0.892 MAF Gomal Zam, 0.053 MAF Satpara, 0.089 MAF Darawat, 0.152 MAF Mirani, 0.014 MAF Sabakzai, Other #Dams: 0.278 MAF.
https://www.urdupoint.com/en/pakistan/4557-maf-water-storage-capacity-added-in-las-623652.html#.XPSPL6jhPLE.twitter

The government is actively working for development of small, medium and large water storage reservoirs in the country and added 4.557 million acre feet (MAF) storage capacity during last 10 years.

Giving the details, officials sources told APP here on Friday, that some 2.880 MAF was added through Mangla Raising dam, 0.892 MAF Gomal Zam dam, 0.053 MAF Satpara dam, 0.089 MAF Darawat dam, 0.152 MAF Mirani dam and 0.014 MAF Sabakzai dams.

Similarly, 0.278 MAF water storage capacity has also been added by constructing various small dams during said period, they said.

The projects included 0.087 MAF ISSO Barriers Sindh, 0.014 MAF Palai, Kundal, KP, 0.021 MAF 20 small dams, KP, 0.032 MAF reconstruction of Shadi Kaur dam, 0.039 MAF and 0.068 MAF 100 delay action dams (Balochistan) and 0.

068 MAF rehabilitation of Akra Kaur dam Balochistan.

They said the government has already acquired 85 per cent land for Diamer Basha dam which would store 6.4 MAF. A sum of Rs 2000 million has also been allocated for Mohmand dam which would store 0.676 MAF water.

The sources said a storage capacity of 4.965 MAF of existing reservoirs had been lost due to sedimentation. Studies showed that additional 0.75 MAF would be lost due to sedimentation by 2025, they said.

They said additional reservoirs were required for inter season and inter year transfer of water.

They said that per capita water availability in the Pakistan was 5,260 cubic meter per annum in 1951 which had been reduced to 908 cubic meters per annum in 2018 due to ever increasing trend of populations.

Riaz Haq said…
As water disappears, parched southern Pakistan farmers march north

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-water-protests/as-water-disappears-parched-southern-pakistan-farmers-march-north-idUSKCN1U31YM

As shopkeeper Ali Akbar went to open his store last week along the main street of Thatta, in Pakistan’s Sindh province, he found himself wading through a sea of people who had blocked the road, causing an enormous traffic jam.

It wasn’t a political rally – the normal cause of such crowds. It was people without water.

“They were demanding the government declare a water emergency and resolve their woes on a war footing,” Akbar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone call. “It was extremely hot, but they remained resolute.”

Over a week, the people had walked 140 km (85 miles) from the Indus delta region, desperate to find an answer to worsening water shortages and land losses to erosion in their home villages.

Zuhaib Ahmed Pirzada, a young environmental activist from Thatta, said an original 50 or so marchers from the area around Kharo Chan – where the delta meets the Arabian Sea - were joined by others as they marched north.

By the time the crowd reached Thatta, there were 1,500 marchers.

Tanzeela Qambrani, a legislator from Badin district, in southern Sindh province, said the region has seen the “slow death” of the delta for many years.

Water expert Simi Kamal, who works at the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund and started a foundation focused on water and food security, said the spread of large-scale irrigation along the Indus River is partially to blame for less water reaching the delta.

But she said “mismanagement” of water, including wasteful flood irrigation and failure to leave enough water in systems to support nature, played a far bigger role.

“Together these have been catastrophic for the environment as well as the local population,” she said, predicting that a shifting climate would only make the problem worse.

LOWER FLOW
The Indus is a water lifeline for over 200 million Pakistanis, about 50 million of them near the river’s end in Sindh, according to the U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water and other agencies.


A report by environmental and development group Lead Pakistan said that as demands on the Indus’ water grow, the delta is receiving less than a third of the water it needs.

The flow is also less than what it is due under a 1991 water sharing accord among Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, the report said.

Khalid Hyder Memon, a former irrigation department official in the Sindh provincial government, said he felt Punjab province, upstream, was “stealing” water that should be Sindh’s share.

He said repeated protests and requests over the last two years for a water audit by an independent body had not yet been acted on by the Indus River System Authority, which monitors water distribution and sharing.

“An audit would establish how much water there is in the system and how much is released to each province,” said Memon, who worked on irrigation issues for 37 years.



But Usman Tanveer, deputy commissioner of Thatta, said recent shortages of water in Sindh were in part the result of cool June temperatures in Gilgit-Baltistan’s Skardu district, with less snowmelt coming from the foothills of the Karakoram mountains.

“It takes between 17 to 25 days for the water from Skardu to reach us. The unprecedented and persistent low temperatures delayed snow melt and created havoc for us,” he explained.

Qambrani said the Sindh government needs to show “seriousness” in dealing with growing water threats as climate pressures become the new normal, and as sea level rise and less water and sediment flowing down the Indus erodes delta land.
Riaz Haq said…
#Thar on the #climatechange frontline in #Pakistan. As #crops fail, #livestock die, tribal communities that have survived for centuries are breaking apart. Technologies like #land terracing, #dripirrigation, mulching can save #water, preserve soil quality

https://www.ft.com/content/78bb819e-a822-11e9-b6ee-3cdf3174eb89


In the Thar Desert (in Pakistan), communities already face an existential threat: there is nowhere near enough food to go round. Hundreds of thousands of people in Tharparkar, more than half the district’s population, face acute food insecurity, meaning they experience hunger but can go entire days without eating anything. Some 400,000 children under five are acutely malnourished, according to the FAO. More than 500 children died from hunger-related causes last year.

As crops fail, and livestock wither and die, the communal nature of life that has bound people in the Thar Desert together for so long is breaking apart. Villagers can no longer afford to stay on their lands. Ebu says that “most healthy men” have had to migrate to cities or towns where they hope to find work as day-labourers. “When they return,” she says, “they only bring things for their own family.”

Others complain in similar terms. Bheel calls it a “drought in community”. Perhaps it is this — the sense of togetherness evaporating — that causes most unease. “We are constantly worried,” says Ebu. “We’re in a constant state of anxiety. It’s as if we are drowning.”

As with most slow-motion humanitarian crises, the issue is not that there are no solutions — but that they require political will, finance and attention. For dry-land communities like those of the Thar Desert, technologies such as land terracing, drip irrigation and mulching can save water and preserve soil quality, sustaining the livestock and crops on which people depend. Such steps would mean major financing as well as government and international support.

The broader need to meet Pakistan’s energy requirements is also not unattainable; billions of dollars of investment are pledged at climate conferences every year. Some of this money could and should be invested in developing countries like Pakistan, enabling them to shift their fossil fuel-powered growth models towards renewable energy alternatives. Overall, it is a massive project and, in relative terms, there is very little time. It’s hard to feel optimistic.

By 2050, Karachi will have a population of 24 million, and experience ‘deadly heatwaves’ of 49C on an annual basis

One evening, Bheel tells me several tales, from legend and personal experience, recalling djinns (ghosts) and deos (spirits) and the alarming feats of the goddess Aver Devi. “My grandmother’s ghost stories were the worst,” he says, “because they seemed so true.” Reality is beginning to attain something of these stories.

Late one night, with a guide, I visit a village in the desert. The moon and stars are bright enough to reveal our shadows on the sand. In the monochrome light, the landscape resembles a blackish sea. In silence, we come across some abandoned thatched huts; black shapes in the darkness.

We find other huts. Two figures emerge. A man says his eight brothers and their families have left this village. His is the last family left. It is a ghost village. Soon, because of climate change, places like these will be uninhabited, and the desert wind will be the only sound; a long, drawn-out gasp of what once was.
Riaz Haq said…
Sindh’s southeastern districts on the coastal belt, Badin, Thatta, Tharparkar and Sujawal will likely to receive heavy rainfall during the rainy spell, according to the weather forecast.


https://arynews.tv/en/met-office-sees-chances-light-rain-drizzle-karachi/


Seasonal low lies over western Balochistan. Moderate moist currents from Arabian Sea are penetrating upper and central parts of the country, weather department said.

Widespread rain-thundershower or windstorm with isolated heavy falls is expected today in Hazara, Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Lahore divisions, Islamabad and Kashmir, while at isolated places in Malakand, Mardan, D.I.Khan, Zhob, Faisalabad, D.G.Khan, Multan, Sahiwal, Bahawalpur, Kalat, Sukkur and Larkana divisions.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday, Balakot received 23 mm rainfall, Cherat 22, Parachinar 05, Malamjabba 01,in Balochistan Barkhan received 17 mm rainfall, Zhob 13, Sibbi 07, Khuzdar 06, in Sindh Jaccobabad received 10 fall, while in Punjab Rahim Yar Khan 07, Rawalpindi 05, Bahawalnager 03, Chakwal 02 and Attock 01 received showers.

Riaz Haq said…
#AkiraMiyawaki style forest by @SECMC_Thar
. The #MillionTree project seems to be taking shape with Neem, Kandi, Kekar etc. 80% of the 85,000 plants survived, many already 6 ft tall in just a year!

Tweet by Zofeen Ebrahim
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan Agriculture Research Council with #Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company’s (SECMC) Thar Foundation in Tharparkar set to turn barren #Tharparkar #desert #green. It has huge reserves of #groundwater estimated at 80 billion cubic meters. #coal https://tribune.com.pk/story/1905021/1-parc-set-turn-barren-tharparkar-desert-green/

For the barren desert of Tharparkar, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) appears set to embark on an ambitious project of growing cash crops and fruit orchards. The council in this regard entered into an agreement on Wednesday with the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company’s (SECMC) Thar Foundation in Tharparkar.

Cultivating cash crops and fruit trees, modifying seeds and fodder, reducing salinity and developing multi-directional commercial value chains, that involve livestock, are the objectives. The two partners will also carry out an analysis and undertake pre-emptive remedy against land degradation caused by salinity.


PARC will also station supervisors on-ground who will be available to supervise designated bio-saline projects, which have been initiated by the foundation. The two organisations will also conduct a feasibility study on installing domestic biogas units modelled on the utilisation of animal waste as fuel.

PARC Chairperson Dr Yusuf Zafar said that their supreme objective was to eliminate drought in the region. He said that the council would replicate successful models in Tharparkar which were implemented by the Arid Zone Research Institute in the neighbouring Umerkot district.

Syed Murtaza Azhar Rizvi of Thar Foundation said that the desert was blessed with huge reserves of groundwater, which are estimated at around 80 billion cubic meters. The subsoil water, he added, can be pumped out to make Tharparkar district rich in agriculture.

For the project, the foundation is providing 20 acres of land for the execution of a pilot project. The provision of the required resources including water, seeds and saplings will also be the foundation’s onus.

Riaz Haq said…
#Thar #desert blooms in #Pakistan after #Monsoon2019. Farmers are tilling their land, planting seeds, and for first time in years, expecting a good harvest. Transformation of is attracting tourists to marvel at grass-lined roads in #Sindh | The Third Pole https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/2019/09/13/the-thar-desert-blooms-in-pakistan/

Located in in the south of Pakistan’s Sindh province, bordering India to the east, the Thar desert is home to many varieties of indigenous trees, herbs, and grasses. It is the latter that provides feed for more than 6 million livestock.

One and a half month ago, heavy winds accompanied by soaring temperature hit the region. People migrated towards the barrage areas more than 200 kilometres away with their cattle. Now all that has changed. In the deep desert dunes have been covered by a greenish coverlet, trees have doubled & tripled their leaves, and the grass is growing with unrestrained enthusiasm.

Mr Khaku, who lives in the village of Dhorio, was weeding out grass from his land. He was thankful for the rain, and said that he had invested PKR 20,000 (USD 128) on his land, and intended to work for the next three months until the harvest in the last week of November. His family – he has seven children – seemed to be as enthusiastic as he was, working from sunrise to sunset. Every family member plays a role in cultivating the desert land.

When drought hits the people and animals face an acute shortage of fodder and cereal crops, as well as water scarcity. These lead to premature births among livestock, and the malnutrition rate increases among children under 5 years of age. Pregnant and lactating women do not get their proper amount of food. People are forced to migrate towards the areas where barrages have been built to find fodder and water for their cattle.

This year may be a year of hope, but nothing is certain, warned Bharumal Amrani, a folklorist and environmental expert. “Nothing can be said finally until the harvest. This time Thar has received enough rains, but there are other climatic challenges that may cause low yield.” Recent attacks by grasshoppers are an issue, and have the potential to cause a huge loss.
Local farmers like Nehal, though, are optimistic. He had been taking on labour work during the lean period to manage household expenses. But, after the rains, his family has returned to the land.

“I invested PKR 30,000 (USD 192) last year, but due to rainfall, we got only fodder for two months and couldn’t manage to return the loan payment. This year we welcomed a good shower, and hope this would give us a way to fulfil household needs until the next rains,” he said.
Despite the amount of rain, there is an issue about their timing. “Due to climate change there has been a in the monsoon, the desert received the first spell of rain almost a month late, and that may badly affect the harvest,” said Aakash Hamirani, a youth activist. Nevertheless the people are happy, blessing their fortune this year, and hoping it marks a change from the last few years of lean rainfall.

Riaz Haq said…
Use of greenhouses and other modern cultivation techniques helping increase #fruits and #vegetables production in #Faisalabad, #Pakistan. Use of drip #irrigation saving precious #water. https://tribune.com.pk/story/2060545/1-seeds-change-greenhouse-step-towards-sustainable-agriculture/


Innovation is contagious and more so if it contributes to productivity and output. Even while much of Pakistan is far behind in the race for newer and efficient ways to produce fresh fruit and vegetables, a farm in Faisalabad is making significant gains.

A farm owner in Pakistan’s textile hub is trying the latest tricks of the trade to cultivate crops throughout the year.

“We have imported machinery from Turkey to build the state-of-the-art greenhouses in Faisalabad,” said Waseem Afzal.
His sprawling farm sits on 25 acres, and he is willing to experiment with the land. Much of Afzal’s produce ends up selling in his stores in Lahore and other urban locations.

According to the experts, greenhouses provide a controlled environment, which allows vegetables and fruits to grow year-round.

The use of greenhouses and other modern cultivation techniques have helped Afzal increase his produce. He introduced drip irrigation to his farms, among other tweaks to traditional practices.
Relatively inexpensive and easy to install, the drip irrigation system helps maximize plant health due to the reduced moisture levels.

Afzal said drip irrigation helps him save more than 50% water. Listing the benefits of using greenhouses, the farm owner said the crops come out sturdier.
Through the greenhouses, Afzal has successfully been able to cultivate a wide variety of crops. These include wheat, cucumber, zucchini, and tomatoes all year round and against all the weather related challenges.

“Greenhouses are playing a very important role in countries like the Netherlands, Israel, and India,” said Afzal, a strong proponent of new agricultural techniques.

“The future of agriculture in Pakistan is greenhouses,” he added. “Crops are allowed to grow in a controlled environment in such facilities, which limits the chances of damage,” he explained.

According to experts, farmers who experiment with techniques like tunnel farming would also be able to boost their yield. Tunnel farming operates on the principle of creating summer-like conditions during winter. It allows farmers to cultivate these vegetables during winter, making them available throughout the year.

Afzal believes such techniques would prevent the shortage of vegetables and make the country self-sufficient.

Commenting on the use of greenhouses and other cost-effective ways to cultivate, Punjab Agriculture Department Director General Dr Anjum Ali said: “Such techniques allow us to produce vegetables and other crops free from the fear of pesticides.”

“Producing our crops in a controlled environment makes them more desirable in the international market,” he added.

According to Dr Ali, farmers, who employ drip irrigation, and greenhouse techniques, receive subsidies from the government.
Riaz Haq said…
Zero-carbon hydro-ram water pumps turn #Pakistan's barren mountains green with apple trees. Pumps feed drip #irrigation system that delivers a steady, gentle flow of water to mountain-top crops, using less water than traditional irrigation #GilgitBaltistan https://reut.rs/2UrCyz3

GOJAL VALLEY, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Shovel in hand, Naila Shah regularly walks two miles from her home to a newly planted apple orchard, high in the mountains of Khyber village in northern Pakistan.

Only two years ago, it would have been practically impossible to grow apples in this part of Pakistan, 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) up in Gilgit-Baltistan region’s Gojal Valley.

Although the Khunjerab River provides plenty of water to those living in the valleys below, local farmers used to have no efficient way to get it up the mountain-sides.

But the installation of a hydraulic ram (hydro-ram) pump has changed that. It harnesses the pressure of fast-flowing water, such as a river, to drive a share of that water uphill without needing any other power source.

Because the pumps work without electricity or fuel, they are cheap to run and produce no climate-heating carbon emissions.

“Previously, we used to survive on rainwater,” said Shah, a teacher and secretary of a local women’s development group.

“The land used to be barren, as water couldn’t be lifted from the river flowing right next to the area,” she said, digging out weeds from around the bases of young trees.

Low-cost, sustainable irrigation systems like hydro-ram pumps could be key to helping Pakistan’s mountain communities adapt as climate change drives more severe droughts and floods across the country, environmental experts said.

“The government cannot afford larger irrigation systems,” said Haider Raza of green group WWF-Pakistan, which installed the pump in Khyber village two years ago under a project led by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

“But these high-efficiency irrigation systems, which aren’t an expensive technology, can be used to improve the livelihoods of local communities,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Encouraged by the results, the United Nations Development Programme gave WWF-Pakistan additional funding to install 20 more hydro-ram pumps in 12 villages.


Each pump is connected to a drip irrigation system that delivers a steady, gentle flow of water to mountain-top crops, using less water than many traditional irrigation methods.

The pumps have helped revive about 60 acres (24 hectares) of previously barren land, benefiting nearly 300 households, Raza said.

Their simple design - consisting mainly of pipes and two valves - means few moving parts to maintain or repair.

Upkeep of the pumps, which cost up to 70,000 Pakistani rupees ($430) to build and install, is easy and affordable for communities, who have welcomed the new systems, Raza added.

Seeing the potential for low-cost irrigation to help mountain communities, Pakistan’s government last year approved funding for the Gilgit-Baltistan water management department to install 50 hydro-ram pumps, along with 150 solar-powered pumps.

Those systems should help irrigate 1,050 acres of orchards in nearly a dozen districts, according to Mudassar Maqsood, associate programme coordinator at ICIMOD.

The government’s efforts to bring water to high-altitude communities may also get a boost from nature itself.

Climate experts predict shifting rainfall patterns in Pakistan could in future move the wet season away from its southern and central plains to northern mountain regions.

Muhammad Irfan Tariq, who recently retired from his post as director general of Pakistan’s climate change ministry, said the plains might eventually get less monsoon rain than they do now.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's silent #olive revolution with increasing area under cultivation. 3m plants producing 1,415 tons of #oil worth Rs 4.416 billion by 2024. Pothwar has 1.2 million olive plants on 11,125 acres. More in #KP, #Balochistan, #GilgitBaltistan & #Kashmir https://www.dawn.com/news/1537650


The sector is rapidly moving the country towards self-reliance by introducing Pakistan’s national brand under the name of ‘PakOlive’ by 2021. The Pakistan Olive Oil Council will be established under the Ministry Of National Food Security and Research to suggest policy measures for the promotion of olive oil in the country. The government will also issue certifications for the marketing and branding of olive oil for the private sector.

“Certification is important as our local olive products can then become competitive in the international market,” said Dr Muhammad Tariq, national project director for the promotion of olive cultivation on a commercial scale in Pakistan. Furthermore, utilising marginal lands will help grow a cottage industry for olive products, he explained.

The project targets plantations of over 50,000 acres in the country by 2022. The available potential area for olive cultivation is about 10 million acres in Punjab, particularly the Pothwar region, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and erstwhile Fata, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Given its potential for growing olive plantations, Pothwar has been termed as an ‘olive valley’ where over 1.2 million olive plants are being grown on an area of 11,125 acres, engaging about 1,300 farmers. More than half the plants will start bearing fruit in 2019-20’s cropping period, producing 5,118 tonnes of olive oil. By 2024, the value of oil olive production will increase to Rs1.727 billion.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, over a million olive plants are being grown on an area of 9,391 acres engaging 768 farmers. The production of olive oil is estimated to reach the value of Rs1.458bn in 2024.

In Balochistan, over half a million plants are being grown over an area of over 9,391 acres and it is expected that by 2024, the value of oil will be Rs1.160bn.

In Islamabad Capital Territory and AJK, over 50,000 plants are being grown on an area of 455 acres of land engaging 228 farmers. The value of oil by 2024 is expected to be Rs71 million.

Thus, by 2024, the country will have about 3m fruit-bearing olive plants producing roughly 1,415 tonnes of olive oil with an estimated value of Rs4.416bn. The climate change ministry also plans to plant 1m olive plants.

Edible oil is an every-day use food item. Pakistan has been chronically deficient in its production. More than 80 per cent of the domestic requirements are met through imports. Since the early-1970s, its imports have increased at the rate of 12.5pc annually and the trend is worsening.

In 2017 alone, more than $3.2bn was spent on the import of oil, oil meal and oilseeds to meet domestic needs. Pakistan imported 3,000 tonnes of olive oil worth Rs1.241bn during 2017-18.

Dr Tariq explained that utilising marginal lands will help the cottage industry of olive products grow. Thus, livelihoods will be improved through employment generation opportunities created by olive value-chains developed in less-favoured regions of the country.

Olive forests resist drought and help absorb greenhouse gases when the capability of other trees decrease, making them more efficient in taking in carbon dioxide.

They also provide permanent crop cover that not only saves land from erosion and further degradation but also minimises silt load to downstream water reservoirs. Olive orchards require less water, fertilisers, pesticides and fuel energy as compared to other major annual oilseed crops.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan hired 63,000 people, unemployed by #COVID19, to plant 10 billion #trees while wearing masks & maintaining #SocialDistancing. Starts with 15,000 acres near #Islamabad to expand to #forest land throughout the country to fight #ClimateChange via @ https://www.upworthy.com/pakistan-hires-63000-people-to-plant-10-billion-trees?xrs=RebelMouse_tw#81b65

If there is a bright spot to the COVID-19 epidemic, it's the positive environmental impact that social distancing has had on the planet. There has been a steep drop in worldwide pollution and wildlife is returning to places that were once dominated by human activity.

The pandemic has also inspired many world leaders to champion a green recovery.

Pakistan has found a great way to help its laborers who've lost their jobs due to the health crisis by hiring them to plant saplings as part of the country's 10 Billion Trees program. The five-year project was launched by Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan to counter the droughts, flooding, and rise in temperatures in the country caused by climate change.

Pakistan ranks fifth on a list of countries most affected by planetary heating over the past two decades by the Global Climate Risk Index 2020.

The country has been on lockdown since March 23, but the prime minster granted an exception for the 63,000 laborers it has hired for the program. The workers will be paid between 500 to 8000 rupees a day — about half of what a laborer would usually make —but it's enough to get by.

The work is a lifeline for the unemployed laborers but it will only put a small dent in Pakistan's unemployment rate. A recent assessment by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics found that up to 19 million people could be laid off due to COVID-19.

Even though the work takes place in isolated areas, laborers still have to abide by social distancing rules. They must remain six feet apart from one another and wear masks.

Much of the planting is being done on 15,000 acres near the state capital of Islamabad as well as other pieces of state-owned forest land throughout the country.

"This tragic crisis provided an opportunity and we grabbed it," Malik Amin Aslam, climate change advisor to the prime minister, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The United States should look into similar programs to help its unemployed citizens as well as the planet. During the Great Depression, president President Franklin Roosevelt mobilized the U.S. Forest Service, the Works Progress Administration, and the Civilian Conservation Corps to create a shelterbelt of trees that ran in a 100-mile-wide zone from North Dakota to the Texas panhandle.

The goal was to provide a natural barrier against the dust storms that ravaged the middle of the country during the Dust Bowl

Over seven years, 30,233 shelter belts were planted, stretching over 18,600 square miles, and containing over 220 million trees. It also provided much needed employment for thousands of workers who's livelihoods had been destroyed by the Dust Bowl and stock market crash.

In every great tragedy holds the seed of opportunity. The U.S. should follow Pakistan's lead and use that seed to plant a better future.
Riaz Haq said…
Wapda secures ‘B-’ with stable outlook by rating agencies

https://www.dawn.com/news/1544852

The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) has secured international credit rating of ‘B-’ with a stable outlook from international rating agencies, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) -- a pre-requisite for green eurobond issuance that is a core point of the policy for foreign currency component of both Diamer Basha and Mohmand dam projects.

This was revealed in a letter written by the Wapda chairman to the federal water resources secretary on Friday.

Wapda had initiated the process to raise a portion of the requisite foreign currency financing from international market through issuance of green eurobond with a debut benchmark size of $500 million. The authority engaged three major credit rating agencies -- Fitch, S&P and Moody’s. JP Morgan and HBL provided financial advisory services for the process on pro-bono basis and meetings with these agencies were conducted on Feb 19 and 20 at Wapda House in Lahore.

“A great feat that Wapda has been equalised with the federal government on Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating of ‘B-’ with Stable Outlook by both Fitch and S&P Ratings. Moody’s are yet to communicate the outcome and we expect it to be in line with the other two agencies,” the letter stated.

During the meetings, the rating agencies were apprised of Wapda’s autonomous status, business model, financial profile and its importance in realising the government’s goal of minimising dependence on imported fuel for energy generation. This was followed by a rigorous exercise from credit quality perspective, including evaluation of financial position, financial forecasts, impact of socio-political factors, and the authority’s corporate governance and regulatory framework in order to gauge its strengths and quantify potential risks.

“The outcome of this credit rating exercise would greatly help to raise foreign financing at the best possible rates when Wapda approaches the international capital market for its Green Eurobond issuance. It will also bolster our credibility with a direct bearing on the pricing when we raise foreign financing from other avenues like Syndicate loans and Export Credit Agencies,” the letter added.

Wapda chief retired Lt General Muzammil Hussain told Dawn that the authority required $1.2 billion during the first two years of executing the Diamer Basha and Mohmand dam projects. “And now after getting this international rating… we will be able to secure foreign financing for the aforementioned mega projects. For this, we will be launching green eurobond, each of $500 million, in the international market soon. This way, the international donors will agree on fulfilment of the foreign currency component of these two projects,” he explained.

Pakistan had also recently secured the ‘B-’ rating with a stable outlook.
Riaz Haq said…
Dubai scientists grow super crops that thrive in salty deserts
28TH FEBRUARY 2019

BY: , BLOOMBERG

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Scientists in Dubai are developing crops like quinoa that can thrive in the salty soils intruding into the world’s croplands. Winning over enough people to eat them is proving a greater challenge.

At an experimental farm within sight of the world’s tallest skyscraper, researchers at the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture are trying to help farmers in the Middle East and beyond earn a living from unlikely plants known as halophytes. These plants, from trendy quinoa to obscure salicornia, flourish in salty and arid environments where staple crops like wheat or rice would wither.

Concerns about climate change, population growth, and the degradation of fertile farmlands add urgency to the work of ICBA, which runs on a shoestring budget of $15-million a year. The United Nations estimates that food production must increase 60 percent in thirty years to meet demand, while gains in crop yields are slowing.

“You can see the disaster coming. I can’t understand why more people aren’t acting to prevent it,” says Ismahane Elouafi, ICBA’s director general. Governments are reluctant to invest in new foods and remain tethered to staple crops that “are just too demanding on water.”


https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/dubai-scientists-grow-super-crops-that-thrive-in-salty-deserts-2019-02-28
Riaz Haq said…
Scientists in Dubai are developing crops like quinoa that can thrive in the salty soils intruding into the world’s crop lands. Winning over enough people to eat them is proving a greater challenge.

At an experimental farm within sight of the world’s tallest skyscraper, researchers at the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) are trying to help farmers in the Middle East and beyond earn a living from unlikely plants known as halophytes. These plants, from trendy quinoa to obscure salicornia, flourish in salty and arid environments where staple crops like wheat or rice would wither.



Concerns about climate change, population growth, and the degradation of fertile farmlands add urgency to the work of ICBA, which runs on a shoestring budget of $15 million a year. The United Nations estimates that food production must increase 60 per cent in thirty years to meet demand, while gains in crop yields are slowing.

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/quinoa-emerges-as-a-climate-change-saviour/article26411433.ece
Riaz Haq said…
Biosaline Agriculture in Pakistan

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228456411_Biosaline_agriculture_in_Pakistan

Fresh water resources are under severe pressure along with the agricultural irrigation system which suffers from a steady increase in salinity. In order to maintain good supply of water for human consumption and for agriculture, efforts should be made to find alternate source of water and utilization of saline land for economic benefits. A number of halophytes could be used as cash crop (forage, fodder, fuel, medicine, chemicals, ornamentals etc). Pakistan spans a distance of 1,600 kilometers from the Arabian Sea to plains and prairies, the playas of temperate northern mountains across deserts, covering an area of 800,000 square kilometers. The varied climatic conditions have resulted in a rich diversity of flora including halophytes. Compared to the total 2500 species reported worldwide, Pakistan alone has about 410 halophytes and 178 of them have not been reported before. The efforts made to combat salinity and utilization of halophytes as cash-crop in Pakistan would be discussed.


Riaz Haq said…
Sindh CM Murad inaugurates Kalidas Dam in Nagarparkar

https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/10/28/cm-murad-inaugurates-kalidas-dam-in-nagarparkar/

Addressing the inauguration ceremony, Murad Ali Shah said, “The dam has a storage capacity up to 1,012.3 acre feet while its height is 13 feet. It was constructed at the catchment area of Karoonjhar Mountains that are feasible for small dams. The dam has been constructed at a cost of Rs333 million.”

Shah said that the provincial government has completed the construction of 23 small dams, while the plan for building more 26 dams has also been finalised.

“After the construction these dams, approximately 80,000 acres of land will be made fertile.”

The chief minister said that the people of Nagarparkar and its suburban villages will get clean drinking water after the construction of Kalidas Dam.

“The mountainous region of Karoonjhar is 400 square kilometres wide and it receives an average of 13-inch rain during the monsoon season which provides a total of 111,000 acre feet of water. Kalidas Dam will reduce the water scarcity in the Nagarparkar area,” he added.
Riaz Haq said…
Sindh has become the only province to possess as many as 50 operational small dams that aim to meet the water needs of far-flung areas. As many as 31 new dams are under construction while some eight area are under the tendering process, it is learnt.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/09/12/sindh-becomes-only-province-to-have-50-functional-small-dams/


According to the Small Dams Organization chief engineer, the Sindh government had launched a number of small dams, with a total cost of Rs 12,211 million, to contain water crisis in the districts. Various potential sites were identified for small water reservoirs, particularly along the Kirthar mountain on the western side of the province, he added.

“There are strong opportunities to store rainwater in natural catchments of the Kirthar hills which can be used for cultivation, livestock and human consumption on sustainable basis,” he said, adding that the Kirthar mountain range, shared by Balochistan and Sindh, extends southward for about 300km from the Mula River in east-central Balochistan to the Cape Muari, west of Karachi on the Arabian Sea.

The chief engineer said the areas identified for small dams include upper Kohistan, lower Kohistan, central Kohistan, Nagarparkar and Khairpur.

Advisor to Chief Minister on Information and Archives, Anti-Corruption and Law Barrister Murtaza Wahab told Pakistan Today that total of 50 small dams have so far been completed out of which 28 dams are completed under the province’s Annual Development Plan (ADP) while 22 dams are under the federally-funded Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

Barrister Wahab said that the number of total proposed dams stands at 122 and the provincial government is committed to accomplish all the dams at the earliest so as to end the prevalent water crisis in the province. Among these, he added, some 12 dams are located in Nagarparkar–Mithi, while 14 dams in Kohistan-I Dadu and 24 dams in Kohistan-II Jamshoro range.

Under the ADP schemes, the dams which have been completed include Ranpur bund, Mulji, Bhodesar Tank, Khararo Bund, Tobirio Tank, Lakhy-Jo-Wandio, Salari, Makhi, Rani Kot, Bandhani-I, Taki, Maliriri, Mohan, Ashoro Kuch, Suku, Koteri, Thado-II, Langheji, Nai-Mango, Kalu-1, Jharando, Sari, Malir Memon Goth Weir, Kataro, Meer Chakar, Mole Nadi, German Dhoro and Ranpathani. Whereas small dams under PSDP include Naryasar, Ghartiari, Gordhro Bhatiani, Jhinjsar, Lakar Khadio, Khuwara in Nagarparkar-Mithi, Shori, Kukrani, Bandhani-II, Khurbi, Ding Dhoro, Buri in Kohistan-I Dadu and Mullan, Bazkhando, Gaddap, Khand Dhoro, Ullar-Rahuja, Upper Mole, German Dhoro, Ranpathani, Liyari and Watan Wari.

Moreover, the advisor said that 12 small dams that are underway under PSDP included Surachand Bund, Chanida Dam, Rinmalsar, Adhigham in Nagarparkar-Mithi, Hassan Jo Kun, Malir Bukhshan, Sukhan in Kohistan-II Jamshoro and LarhaNai, AikrsoNai, UkhariNai, KiniriNai and WariwaroNai.

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