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‘Ensuring better crop per water drop’

September 10, 2012


AHMAD Faraz Khan in his article, ‘Ensuring better crop per water drop’ (Economic and Business Review, Sept 3) talks about a yield increase of 39 per cent using the drip irrigation system.

He goes on to add that drip irrigation reduces the labour cost by 60 per cent, 72 per cent more land can be bought under cultivation using the saved water, and saving on fertiliser would be 53 per cent.

He talks about laser levelling and says 3,000 laser levellers would be subsidised for the farming community.

Pakistan is a water-starved country and would become water scarce if we continue to use the flood irrigation system for every crop under the sun. Laser levelling will help in watering plants all over the cultivated area uniformly.

However, it will still use lots of water, fertilisers, pesticides and manpower.

We should debate as to why we have to produce rice which guzzles water. Why can’t we use our precious water to grow crops and fruits which do well on drip?

China recently commissioned the world's biggest hydroelectric power plant at Three Gorges dam. At the same time, they formulated a policy effectively banning chemical production through electrolysis, which consumes a lot of electricity.

Portugal is a small country; however, it is the leading exporter of tomatoes. I have seen tomatoes grown by a progressive farmer in Karachi using drip irrigation while the rest of Pakistan uses flood irrigation for the same crop. The same farmer also uses drip irrigation for his chili, okras, cauliflowers, cabbages, beans, bitter gourd fields, chikoo, papaya, coconut, custard apple and bejube fruit farms. For wheat, he uses central pivot system spraying and saves water instead of losing it through flood irrigation.

Should we continue to follow the agricultural practices of our ancestors who lived in Moenjodaro or should we use technology available today and in use in the current Pakistan?