Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing the world today, and Pakistan is no exception. The country is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, floods, droughts, and extreme weather events. One of the main contributors to climate change is the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere.

To mitigate these emissions, it is necessary to adopt climate-smart practices and techniques. One way to do this is by adopting climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices in Pakistan.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agriculture is responsible for approximately 14 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In Pakistan, agriculture accounts for around 25pc of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The main sources of emissions from agriculture in Pakistan are enteric fermentation in livestock, manure management, and rice cultivation.

In Pakistan, agriculture accounts for around 25pc of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions

CSA is an approach to agriculture that aims to increase productivity and resilience while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is a holistic approach that considers the entire agricultural system, including crop and livestock management, water management, and soil health. In Pakistan, CSA practices can be implemented through a variety of techniques, including:Conservation agriculture: This approach to farming emphasises the use of minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover, and diverse crop rotations. By minimising soil disturbance and maintaining a permanent cover of crops or other vegetation, conservation agriculture can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve soil health. According to a study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, conservation agriculture practices have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30pc.Agroforestry: This is a practice that involves integrating trees into agricultural landscapes. Agroforestry can help sequester carbon, improve soil health, and provide other benefits such as shade for crops and habitat for wildlife. According to a study published in the journal Agroforestry Systems, agroforestry can sequester up to one tonne of carbon per hectare per year.Water management: Effective water management is crucial for sustainable agriculture. Farmers can reduce water usage and improve crop yields by using water-saving techniques such as drip irrigation. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Management found that drip irrigation in Pakistan can reduce water usage by up to 50pc.Crop and livestock management: Climate-smart crop and livestock management can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving productivity and reducing the need for inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides. This can be done through the use of improved crop varieties, crop rotation, and integrated pest management. According to a study published in the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, improved crop varieties can increase yields by up to 30pc.Greenhouse gas inventory and monitoring: To effectively mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, it is important to have accurate data on the sources and levels of emissions. Farmers and policymakers can identify opportunities to reduce emissions and track progress over time by conducting greenhouse gas inventory and monitoring. A study published in the journal Environmental Management found that greenhouse gas inventory and monitoring can help identify emission reduction opportunities, such as improved livestock management practices.

In addition to these techniques, a number of policies and programs can be implemented to support the adoption of CSA practices in Pakistan. These include:Extension services: To support farmers in adopting CSA practices, extension services are needed to provide training and technical assistance. This can be done through the establishment of extension centres, the use of mobile technology, and the development of information and communication materials.Financial incentives: To encourage farmers to adopt CSA practices, they must be financially supported.

Now the question is that who will do that? The answer is quite simple because we have got the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council and the National Agriculture Research Centre, among others.

Provinces have their own agricultural institutes and ministries, directorates and soil and water conservation departments. They are responsible for researching and applying success stories of neighbouring countries to mitigate the harmful effects of global warming and climate change.

Early maturing and drought and disease-resistant varieties can be developed along with soil and water-efficient utilisation. Green technologies are encouraged to minimise the amount of GHGs produced due to agricultural practices. Only dedication and will is required to bring those stakeholders together for coordinated efforts to save our country from food crises or natural disasters. n

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, January 23rd, 2023

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