FAISALABAD: “Pakistan figures high in the list of countries with water scarcity. One of the biggest reasons is water wastage,”
University of Agriculture Faisalabad Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan said on Tuesday. He was addressing a delegation of the 14th senior management course at the National Management College. The delegation was led by Brig (retired) Khan Ahmad.
Dr Khan said Pakistan’s total water storage capacity was less than 15 million acre feet (MAF). He said 105 MAF was being dumped back into the sea.
“If we store this quantity from being wasted, we can overcome the challenge of water scarcity,” he said.
He said stressed the need for the use of drip and water efficient irrigation and for stopping farmers from using the traditional and flood irrigation methods that caused a lot of water to be wasted.
He said 1 million tube wells were being operated in the Punjab, resulting in a decline in the groundwater table. He said India was sucking Pakistan’s sub surface water with high powered pumps and providing heavy subsidy on electricity in the Indian Punjab.
Demanding sustainable and comprehensive agricultural policies, Dr Khan said these were the only ways to counter threats of food insecurity and water scarcity.
To a question about food security, Dr Khan said the third world countries required to focus on genetically modified crops rather than organic crops to meet the food demand.
The VC told the delegates that the UAF in collaboration with a German university was working on desert agriculture and livestock sector in Cholistan. In the desert agriculture, he said, there was an opportunity of value addition, range management as well as mapping the species for exploring potential.
He said the average per acre wheat production in Pakistan was around 30 mounds, whereas progressive farmers were getting more than 50 mounds per acre.
Brig (retired) Ahmad urged agricultural scientists to produce tangible researches and produce climate-resistant and short-term varieties of different crops to ward off food insecurity.
He also stressed the need for transferring their technologies and research among the farming community, especially those related to water and crop increment issues for minimising use of water.
He talked about the need for capacity building and recommended that collaboration among research organisation and universities should be increased.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2013.