Thursday, 16 August 2012

Problems of irrigation in Pakistan


A densely populated agrarian country with one of the best irrigation system but still has backward agricultural milieu, is Pakistan. More than 65% of the population is living on the attachments with agri-based fields or industries. Punjab is the most populated province of Pakistan. Irrigation system of Punjab is not very developed. The present irrigation system is almost hundred year old. The management of current irrigation system is a big challenge with increasing population. Burden on limited irrigation system is also going heavy and situation is becoming more and more serious. The problems with management of Pakistan’ irrigation system includes social as well as technical ones. A loss in agriculture production is enormous due to mismanagement of irrigation system.
The second best irrigation system after Egypt is not free of weaklings. Following are some major curtailing of Pak irrigation system.
Water Wastage
Pakistan is experiencing large water wastage. The old methods of irrigation with flood water are still being used by the farmer who wastes about 50 to 60 percent of water. The recent flood which is biggest of this century bestowed Pakistan a gig resource of water, but the lack of water reservoirs have wasted it carelessly. A new irrigation system called drip irrigation system has been introduced in many parts of the world. This not only saves water but also gives proper quantity of water according to the needs of plants. But Pakistan is not familiar with it yet.
Water logging and salinity
Water logging and salinity is expanding with every passing day. Government of Pakistan has not taken any step to resolve this issue. With the decreasing storage capacity of dams due to silt accumulation the farmers, therefore, are installing more and more tube wells to irrigate their crops. This is another reason behind salinity is spreading in the major areas of Punjab and Sindh.
Water Scarcity due to India’ Expedition
The Pakistan’s enemy since ever, India has made a number of dams violating the Indus Water Treaty of 1960. This act of India has dried the rivers of Pakistan. The average annual flow has been decreased to an alarming level. While the designed cropping intensity of Pakistan’s irrigation system was low in from 60 to 70%, but today cropping intensity has crossed the level of 120% indicating increased water demand. On the other hand
Conflicts among provinces over Kalabagh Dam (KBD).
The delay in building new water reservoirs in Pakistan has played vicious role in complicating the irrigation problems Had Pakistan built Kalabagh dam, all the irrigation issues would have been resolved. No province except Punjab, ready to go forward with KBD project.
Lack of Funds
In Pakistan, the water management is handled by the provincial governments. Although a reasonable slice of the total budget is cut away for irrigation and canal system but this allocation of funds is not sufficient to address all the problems regarding irrigation. The difference between the required and the allocated amount is estimated to be more than 24%. This situation has resulted in the deterioration of the canal system.
Lack of dams
Pakistan needs more dams Indus, Jehlum and Chenab rivers. This will enhance not only the storage capacity of water but also will minimize the per acre cost of all the crops. This act will also lessen the salinity chances of the lands as less number of tube well water would be used to irrigate the lands which are expected to be saline.
A paradigm shifts are needed in government policies and the legal and institutional framework of water management if water use is to improve and those effective changes can fruit very big gains in agriculture output.
Because of serious threats to irrigation system, the wise use of available water resources has become essential.  Planning, design, and operation of land reclamation projects and irrigation system, therefore, have to take into account the new issues. At a time efficient organization and planning of irrigation and drainage system, is one of the most critical goals to achieve the widely accepted approach of integrated water Resources Management.
Economy of every state depends on three sectors i.e agriculture, industry and commerce. These three are interrelated with each other as the progress or retrogress of one sector effects the other two. Pakistan is an agricultural state thus agriculture gains are of much importance than any other sector. Importance of this sector is manifold as it feeds people, provides raw material for industry and is a base for foreign trade. Foreign exchange earned from merchandise exports is 45% of total exports of Pakistan. It contributes 26% of GDP and 52% of the total populace is getting its livelihood from it. 67.5% people are living in the rural areas of Pakistan and are directly involved in it. There are two crops in Pakistan ie Rabi & Kharif.
Crop      |     Sowing season    |     Harvesting season
Kharif     |    April – June               |    Oct – Dec
Rabi       |    Oct – Dec               |       April – May
Major crops of Pakistan are wheat, rice, maize, cotton and sugar cane. These major crops contributed 7.7%  last year against the set target of 4.5%. Minor crops are canola, onions, mangoes and pulses which contributed 3.6% as there was no virus attack last year. Fishery and Forestry contributes 16.6% and 8.8% respectively.
Though the agricultural sector is facing problems in Pakistan yet the major chunk of money comes from this sector. Following are the major causes of agricultural problems in Pakistan which disturb the agricultural growth or development in Pakistan.
Firstly,No mechanism has been adopted to eradicate the soil erosion and even after harvesting nothing is done to improve or restore the soil energy. Therefore, the fertility of soil is decreasing day by day. The thickness of fertile layer of soil in Pakistan is more than 6 inches but the average yield is lower than other countries where layer of fertile soil is only 4 inches.
Secondly, water wastage is very high in our country. The archaic method of flood irrigation is still in practice in whole of the country which wastes almost 50 to 60 percent of water. A new irrigation system called drip irrigation system has been introduced in many parts of the world. This not only saves water but also gives proper quantity of water according to the needs of plants.
Thirdly, owing old methods of cultivation and harvesting, Pakistan has low yield per acre that means the average crop in Pakistan is just 1/4th of that of advance states. Where as Nepal, India and Bangladesh are using modern  scientific methods to increase their yield per acre. For this purpose, these states are using modern machines to improve their yield.
Fourthly, the small farmers are increasing in our country as the lands are dividing generation by generation. So, there are large number of farmers who own only 4 acres of land. These small farmers do not get credit facilities to purchase seeds, pesticides, fertilizers etc. Additionally, a large area of land is owned by feudals and the farmers who work on their lands, are just tenants. This uncertain situation of occupancy neither creates incentive of work nor does attract capital investment.
Fifthly,water logging and salinity is increasing day by day. No effective measures have been taken to curb it. As the storage capacity of the dams is decreasing so the water availability per acre is also decreasing. Therefore, the farmers are installing more and more tube wells to irrigate their crops. This is why salinity is becoming the major issue in most parts of Punjab and Sindh.
Sixthly,focusing more on land, crops and yield problems the man behind the plough is always ignored. While formulating the 5 or 10 years plan, no emphasize has been laid on the importance of solving the problems of farmers. Most of the farmers are illiterate, poor and ignorant. In this wake the loans issued by ADBP or other banks are used by them in other fields like repayment of debts, marriage of daughters etc, in spite of its befitting use in agricultural sector.
Lastly, The only mean of communication in rural areas is T.V or radio so it is urgently needed on the part of these mass communication resources to air the programmes related to the new agricultural techniques and allied sciences. But these programmes should be telecast in regional or local languages. Because lack of guidance is the main reason of farmers backwardness. The communication gap between well qualified experts and simple farmers have not been bridged. Availability of these experts is not ensured in rural areas as they are reluctant to go there.
Pakistan is rich in fertile land yet the land is being wasted in different ways. 79.6% million hectors of land is culturable where as only 20.43% million hectors is cultivated. The reason can be described in two points.
1.      A major area is owned by feudals. It is difficult to manage such a huge area so only that part is cultivated which is easy to manage, the rest is left ignored.
2.      The rise of industrialization has given threat to this sector. People are migrating to cities and cities are expanding, thus new towns and colonies are constructed on fertile lands.
The irrigation system of Pakistan needs improvement as about 67% of the land is irrigated with canals.
Apart form these issues the monopoly of Foreign Big Wigs and false policies of government cannot be ignored.
Monopoly Of Foreign Companies: The pesticides companies are sorting partnership with “World Bank”. These companies are selling adulterated but expensive pesticides to a poor farmer thus leaving him helpless. These pesticides are not only hazardous for health but also a filling the pockets of companies. By moving according to world bank these companies are gaining their own aims. Moreover there is a conflict of interests. It is not ensured that either the company conducting agreement is basically trying to get access to international market or just working according to their aims.
91% of genetically engineered (GE) seeds is made and owned by one US Company called Monsanto. The vast majority of consumers around the world are against GE foods and crop as GE has been associated with health risks, loss of biodiversity, increased use of toxic weed killers and other environmental problems. 85% of GE crops are concentrated in just 3 countries i-e United States, Argentina and Canada. Globally G.E crops cover less than one percent of arable land. Farmer around the world have experienced problems with Monsanto’s BT cotton.    Researchers from Cornell University reported that Chinese GM cotton farmers are losing money due to secondary pests. After seven years, populations of other insects such as mi rids, have increased so much that farmers are now having to spray their crops up to 20 times per season to control them, according to the study of 481 Chinese farmers in five major cotton producing provinces.
This cotton seed does not show any resistance against virus attacks and needs 8 months to give yield thus no other crop can be cultivated on that land. This seed of cotton needs more water. Therefore, Pakistan has asked Monsanto to provide seeds which consume less water as Pakistan is moving towards the abyss of water shortage. It is a notorious organization that took the farmers to courts many times as it did not give ownership right to farmers to preserve seed. Even the seed of harvested crop cannot be used again for cultivation. Monopoly of Monsanto is clear when it is selling seed at RS 1700 per kg to Pakistan and RS 700 per kg to India. Glaringly, the Indian ministry of health asking to ban B.T cotton seed whereas in Kerala & Orrisa it is already banned. Not to ignore the gloomy side of this organization is that in the Vietnam where it provided “Agent Orange” dioxin bomb to U.S that is responsible for sever skin and genetic diseases.
Non-comprehensice Policies Of Pakistan:18 billion in budget was allocated for agricultural sector of Pakistan but the withdrawal of subsidy on pesticides and electricity on the conditions of IMF has done serious damage to this sector. Whereas America and European Union are giving a huge amount of subsidy to their farmers and that is a greatest hurdle in the implementation of W.T.O rules. Additionally, price policy is very weak. In Punjab sugar cane is sold 200 Rs. per 40 kilograms. It was purchased and later on stocked by Industrialist in their stores. When Brazil bought sugarcane from International Market and prices become high, the Pakistan sugar mills owners projected demand of selling sugar at high prices, thus Pakistan faced sugar crisis. Then Pakistan had to import Sugar at high prices therefore, the prices of sugar went high in local markets.
Solutions For Agricultural Problems In Pakistan:
1.      Feudalism should be abolished and lands should be allotted to poor farmers. This will enhance the productivity and per acre yield of all the crops in Pakistan. Taxes should be levied on Agricultural income but not without devising limit of land holding. Other wise it would directly effect poor farmers.
2.      Federal Seed Certification and Federal Seed Registration is approved but it should taken responsible steps in approving seeds as it has already approved 36 new kinds of seeds. Specially, those seeds should be banned which can create pest problem in near future. These seeds are of cotton mainly. International seed makers are providing those seeds which are not successful in our country as these seeds are not tested on our soil.
3.      A new Agricultural policy must be framed in which following steps should be focussed on.
-    Small farmer must be focused. The major problems of small farmers should be solved first.
-   Consumer friendly policy must be projected.
-   Productivity enhancement programme must be constituted to adjust and support prices.
-    Different Agricultural zones should be introduced. As Multan in famous for its Mangoes and citrus fruits so it must be made Mango, citrus zone by which Perishable products should be exported. This would enhance agro based industry and increase foreign reserves. Pakistan Agricultural storage & Services Corporation needs to take steps in this regard.
-    Corporate farming like giving lands to Mitehels, Nestle and Multinational companies is also a good idea that will also help those who own a large area of fertile land but can’t manage it.
-    Surplus vegetables and fruits must be exported. A Rs 39 million scheme has been approved for the current fiscal year for establishment of agro export processing zone for fruits, vegetables and flowers. This will also help in commercializing agriculture
-    Latest mechinery should be provided to the farmers to increase the per acre yield. This provision should be on easy installments so that the farmers can avoid the burden of loans. If possible subsidy should be given by the government of modern machinery.-    Modern techniques of irrigation can solve the problems of irrigation in Pakistan. This includes drip irrigation and sprinkle irrigation methods. By using this technique the farmers can save a huge some of money which he pays for irrigation through tubewells and tracktors.
-     More dams should be constructed on Indus, Jehlum and Chenab rivers. This will enhance the storage capacity of water and reduce the per acre cost of all the crops. This step will also reduce the salinity chances of the lands as less tubewell water will be flooded to the lands which cause salinity.
By Dr.S.M.Alam and M.A. Khan
Mar 01 - 07, 1999
Our agricultural land is facing many problems and some of the major problems are the conversion of arable land into non-agricultural uses, waterlogging and salinity and land erosion scenarios are the most disastrous of the present day crisis.
The total land area of Pakistan is nearly 197 million acres, while the population growth rate is 3.1 per cent annually. As our total land area is fixed, which cannot be increased, therefore, with rapidly expanding population pressure on it, it is also increasing quickly. As a result, our current and potential agricultural land is reducing and shrinking tremendously. It has been estimated that throughout the country, everyday approximately 500 acres (1 acre = 4,840 square yards) of farmland is taken out of agriculture by the expansion of settlements, roads, factories and many other non-agricultural activities. It is predicted that if this trend continues then after every decade approximately a million acre or more of crop land would be taken out of agriculture in our country. In USA, for example, nearly 8,000 acres of farmland is lost each day due to non-agricultural uses.
Arable land is a basic and major resource for the production of human food. But it seems that the expansion of human population and human activities are reducing the availability of land, suitable for food production at an alarming rate. Expanding population demands more food on one side and devours agricultural land on the other side, which is a matter of great concern for everyone.
Out of total land area, 80 million hactres, 21 million hectares is cultivable. Of the total cropped areas 16.2 million hectares (77%) is irrigated and 6.01 million hectares is rain-fed. The annual rainfall in Pakistan varies from less than 100 mm in Sindh to more than 750 mm in the foothills and northern mountains. About 60% of this rainfall occurs during monsoon. In spite of a number of drainage and salinity, menace control schemes being undertaken, the salinity and waterlogging problems positively persist and each year 40,000 hectares of irrigated land is lost to waterlogging and salinity. On the one hand, the nation needs more food to fulfill the demands of its increasing population while on the other hand, each year the cultivable commanded area (CCA) is decreasing due to this twin menace.
Pakistan is quite outstanding country in the world with regard to its well-knit irrigation system which covers from upper parts of the country, down to the mouth of Indus in the south. Irrigated areas (nearly 16.0 million hectares) are generally limited to the Indus plain and river Indus and its tributaries are the main source of irrigation water of this 12.09 million hectares are canal irrigated 3.35 million hectares by tubewells and another 0.6 million hectares by other sources. Of the total area under irrigated agriculture, about 9.6 million hectares is arid, 3.8 million semi-arid and the remaining area is characterized by sub-humid. No doubt, irrigation system has increased agricultural production but on the other hand has created the problems of salinity and waterlogging.
Percolated irrigation water has raised the underground water level and subsequently has waterlogging. Excessive salinity of the underground water has also harmful effects on the soil body. Ascent of dissolved minerals of irrigation water through capillary action increases the soil at salinity and damages its fertility. It is rightly said that waterlogging is the cancer of the soil. Because of poor soil drainage and improper irrigation practices, the huge amount of arable land is waterlogged and has became saline now. This problems has destroyed millions of acres of farmland in the country. Waterlogging and deposition of whitish crust of salts are changing farmland into unproductive land and many areas, the crop fields are reduced considerably. Reports say that during every five minutes, one acre fertile farmland is taken out from agriculture, because of this problem. Such land losses must be checked by draining the affected areas and by planting there hydrophytes.
Over the years, about 40 per cent of the irrigated cropping land in Pakistan, which produces around 90 per cent of the total agricultural output of the country has come under waterlogging. This makes the land non-cultivable and poses a serious threat to the agriculture sector and to the country, as agriculture is the bloodline of Pakistan's economy. Salinity and waterlogging are adversely affecting agriculture at alarming rate in Pakistan. These maladies have overlapped over more than 6 million hectares in the country. These two problems are inter-linked and co-exist at most of the places. Experts' reports say that the impact of waterlogging on crop yields is startling. A decrease in the depth of water level within five feet inhibits root growth and causes yields of all major crops to decline rapidly. The impact of salinity on agriculture productivity is similarly severe, robbing Pakistan of about 25 per cent of its potential production of major crops. This is happening in the most productive and fertile agricultural areas of the country and it is clear that unless the twin menace of waterlogging and salinity is countered on an urgent basis and with a new approach, agriculture productivity of the country would be lowered. The reason of these two problems is mainly because of irrigation without drainage. The situation bas been compounded by over-irrigation which many farmers carry out in the belief that it would help increase produce. Considering that 80 per cent of Pakistan's cultivated area of about 17 million hectares is irrigated network, the Indus River irrigation system, the threat to agriculture is not just serious, it is grim and could result in emptying the country's food basket. Implications of waterlogging and salinity can be described in one word: "disastrous."
It is not that the problem has been left unattended. Numerous efforts have been made in the past 40 years to counter waterlogging and salinity and retrieving lost or damaged fields. All campaigns in this direction, however, suffered from two shortcomings. One, while affected lands were restored for cultivation, the malaise continued spreading engulfing other areas. Two, overtime, drainage channels constructed to rehabilitate land, got clogged for lack of maintenance. Nature has gifted us highly diverse and favourable environmental conditions for agricultural practices. But, unfortunately, the yield per acre and per capita is very low as compared to many other countries of the world. This is mainly due to illiteracy, ignorance, lack of improved strains, poor health of farmers. By eliminating these hurdles, the productivity of the land can be improved manifolds. For economic well-being of the country, these maladies must be removed through effective planning, otherwise, agriculture would remain in stress and food supply problems would become much serious with the passage of time.
The productive capacity of a soil is often related to the properties inherent without soil. Erosion removes top-soil and exposes sub-soil, thereby changing its characteristic productivity. Removal of soil by erosion and subsequent incorporation of underlying material by tillage reduces the organic matter. Reduction of organic carbon is associated with reduction in profile NO3-N and CEC. The contents of P. Zn, Fe and Mn decrease as severity of erosion increase. The physical properties such as water holding capacity and infiltration capacity are reduced due to soil erosion which consequently further enhances the process. The soil structure is highly variable throughout the country and largely affects its erodibility. Soils of some areas are several times more erodible than others. The soil structure and water holding capacity can be improved by green manuring, whereas heavy manuring reduces the soil erodibility upto 5 times. Soil erodibility can also be reduced by developing vegetation cover, because root system of plants penetrates into the soil and binds its particles in proper place.