RICE export is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy. Pakistan produces about 2.6 to six million tons of rice annually while exports around one million ton, which makes Pakistan the fourth largest rice exporter in the world after China and India.
Because of increased Indian activity on the eastern rivers and the construction of 13 new dams on Kabul River, Pakistan loses 17 per cent of the water supply. Sindh and Punjab are producing 95 per cent of rice with two million farmers relying on rice cultivation as their major source of employment. Pakistan has the potential to export rice up to $4billion annually.
But increasing water scarcity has reduced the production of rice and farmers are losing their interests in rice cultivation in low land because of flooding cultivation method of rice which could cause a big setback to Pakistan rice export.
In this scenario, Pakistan should look forward to water saving aerobic cultivation; the kind of rice that can grow on dry soil like wheat and corn as the country faces shortage of fresh water which will limit the traditional low land rice.
This will help the farmers to cope up with increasing water shortage. Besides this, high rate of population growth in the country pushes us to look forward to aerobic cultivation. Thus Pakistan needs to produce 20 to 25 per cent more rice to meet their domestic demand.
By producing aerobic rice Pakistan may achieve the limelight position in the list of rice-exporting countries. Aerobic rice cultivation has innumerable environment-friendly effects. The generation of methane gas as a by-product of flood may also be minimised and bring more money in the country. Aerobic rice proves to be a good option in order to raise rice exports and meet the domestic agriculture demand.
MUSADIQ MANZOOR Karachi