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Solarised agriculture thriving in Thar – Pakistan

HYDERABAD: Photo Meghwar, a farmer in Islamkot Taulka of District Tharparkar has grown a variety of crops including vegetables on a 2 Acre plot by utilizing underground water pumped out with a small solar panel system.

Photo started growing crops two years ago and now his family has able to address the food security problem which he had been facing for a long. “I grow vegetables to meet food requirements of my family and also some other cash crops like an onion to sale in the market that helps me buying grains to store round the season,” said Photo Meghwar.

Saying that this was made possible after he installed a 2 kva solar system which pumps out water from the depth of 120-150 feet and runs a maximum of 6 hours a day, Photo Meghwar said I installed the system at good times when the prices were comparatively cheap.

The small-scale Solarized units installed have increased many folds all around Tharparkar and being utilized for drinking water needs of human and livestock population and for larger use of small-scale farming plots. Yet the growing prices of this unsubsidized sector have become the major threat to flourish the sector.

Tharparkar-Sindh is almost dependent on agriculture, especially on livestock farming. It is the biggest belt of the desert and its economy depends upon livestock as compared to the whole of Pakistan too, because of rain-fed agriculture. Since the majority of the small and medium farmers are poor, therefore, they keep their own livestock for food purposes and income requirements. It is the insurance against the harvest failure and source of easily cashable investment capital.

The livestock population is roundabout more than 22 percent of whole Sindh and needs more attention from researchers to evaluate it. An overwhelming majority of district Tharparkar is dependent upon livestock that can only be survived on-farm and non-farm agriculture.

Despite the important role of livestock in agriculture in Tharparkar which holds a huge potential, it has not yet received adequate attention from the economic planners both at the provincial and federal levels, said Mohsin Babar, Spokesperson of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company and Thar Foundation.

Thar Foundation has successfully experimented with Biosaline Agriculture in Thar over an area of 100 acres by growing crops, vegetables, and fruit trees, especially the numerous verities of local fodder species that can feed a flock of livestock. The Foundation has also planted 850,000 trees of local species by pumping out available groundwater.

“Thar has great potential not only to address severe food security problems but as a potential to become the most productive region in terms of agriculture and livestock production,” he said. Saying that the solar technology and modern irrigation techniques have made it possible to turn Thar into a prosperous and productive region, he said.

“An estimated 500,000 acres of land awaits the attention of policymakers, farmland owners, private sector and scientists to step in with an objective to increase the farming of crops, livestock and its alternates, and the support provided by this resource to people’s livelihood,” said Mohsin Babar.

He advised the Government of Sindh to come forward by introducing cooperative farming on commercial grounds and offer subsidized Solarized agriculture equipment and machinery along with soft loans to the local farmers and private sector investors.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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