Full circle farming

????Pakistan stands as a prominent global producer and supplier of food and crops

Murk Larik November 11, 2023
The writer holds the position of Country Director at a healthcare MNC and is also the founder of ECO-DRIVEN. Based in Karachi, she can be reached at murklarik@gmail.com


Circular Agriculture, the full circle farming model, in Pakistan is a forward-thinking, sustainable approach aiming to revolutionise farming practices. By optimising resource usage, minimising waste and promoting ecological balance, it ensures a more resilient agricultural sector. Integrated practices like mixed farming, agroforestry and efficient water management reduce environmental impact and empower farmers. This transformative model holds promise for enhancing sustainability and resource efficiency, steering Pakistan towards a greener and economically prosperous future.

Pakistan stands as a prominent global producer and supplier of food and crops, underscoring the pivotal role played by its agricultural sector in the country’s economic landscape. Accounting for 22.9 per cent of the GDP and generating 37.4 per cent of employment, the agricultural sector not only ensures food security but also supplies raw materials to the industrial sector, thus fostering sustainable growth. However, traditional agricultural practices and the increasing frequency of adverse climatic events present significant challenges to productivity and sustainability. In response to these challenges, Circular Agriculture has emerged as a sustainable paradigm aiming to address the inefficiencies and environmental impacts of conventional agriculture.

Circular Agriculture embodies an integrated approach that seeks to optimise resource utilisation, minimise waste and reduce environmental impact within the agricultural system. This paradigm operates on the principle of a circular resource flow, where waste from one part of the system becomes a valuable input for another, creating a closed-loop system. The primary objective is to decrease resource requirements and the ecological footprint of agriculture. In Europe, a circular approach to food systems could potentially reduce chemical fertiliser use by an impressive 80 per cent, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2016), resulting in significant environmental and CO2 emission reduction benefits.

The cornerstone of the Circular Agriculture model encompasses the integration of mixed crop-livestock systems, organic farming, agroforestry, water recycling and wastewater reuse.

Mixed farming, combining crop cultivation with animal husbandry, offers additional prospects to deepen Circular Agriculture by utilising locally produced feed and manure instead of imports and chemical fertilisers, thus reducing CO2 emissions.

Organic farming, aiming to eliminate dependence on chemical fertilisers, pesticides and plastics, is another critical element. It not only reduces the use of pesticides and fertilisers but also has gender implications, promoting women’s participation in agriculture.

Agroforestry, described as the strategic planting of trees alongside crops or pastures, is a fundamental aspect of Circular Agriculture. Tree planting plays a vital role in rejuvenating biodiversity within agricultural surroundings and improving soil fertility by increasing the accumulation of organic matter through natural decomposition. Furthermore, agroforestry, requiring fewer external inputs, presents an accessible avenue for female farmers with limited financial means, promoting empowerment within the rural economy.

Incorporating recycling and reusing irrigation water stand as crucial elements in Circular Agricultural water management. Utilising wastewater for agricultural needs can effectively irrigate an extra 40 million hectares, equating to 15 per cent of all presently irrigated land. This practice holds the potential to curtail pollution, advocate for water conservation and furnish resources for recharging aquifers.

The incorporation of Circular Agriculture is targeted at mitigating growing apprehensions regarding the unsustainable nature of domestic food production, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity and the depletion, degradation and contamination of water and land resources. The objective is to harmonise farming methods with nature, rather than in opposition to it. The effective implementation of circular practices in rural regions calls for concurrent shifts influencing food system demand at urban and national scales, including the reduction of food waste, adjustments in dietary choices, and fostering a propensity to invest more in organic products.

Circular Agriculture presents a transformative approach for sustainable agricultural development in Pakistan. By embracing circular principles and implementing innovative practices, Pakistan can enhance resource efficiency, improve environmental sustainability and promote resilience in the face of evolving challenges. Policymakers, farmers and stakeholders must collaborate to create an enabling environment that supports the transition to Circular Agriculture, ensuring a more sustainable and prosperous future for the agricultural sector in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2023.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ