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Prioritising sustainable, small-scale farming

Evolution is natural ongoing phenomena since day one and there is a famous phrase of philosophers and scientists believes that “THE LAW OF CHANGE CANNOT BE CHANGED”. Having this universal truth, we as human beings experience random and rapid changes from a very first day of our universe. Changes sometimes impact us positively and sometimes the existence faces demolishing threats based on an inability of adopting natural changes by living species. Humans are smart and intelligent species that usually adopt a change and willing to align themselves with nature for their least existence on earth. Science and religion both believe that changes in need and nature should be re-engineered with best of possibility and thought process according to main theme of fact and reality.

In reference to the above-mentioned expressed reality, climate and weather as universal realities are impacting humans as natural phenomena and humans are aligning themselves accordingly with an alignment of nature to exist peacefully on earth. In modern world of digitalization, all of the nations under umbrella of UNO are living as global village and commonly fighting with challenges as universal one unit. In the list of content, top of the line challenges includes global warming due to which multiple regions are facing extreme weather and climatic changes in means of rainfall, snowfall, extreme cold and heat waves, resulting in flooding and increases water levels in seas. On the contrary, however, the world population is continuously increasing parallel due to which an issue of global warming is aggregating itself.

Climate change, a reality acknowledged by science, poses a significant threat to Pakistan’s food security. As the world grapples with this global challenge, Pakistan, a nation particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events, must find solutions to ensure food security in the coming decade.

Global warming disrupts weather patterns, leading to erratic rainfall, floods, droughts, and heatwaves. Pakistan has already witnessed the devastating consequences of these changes with floods wiping away agricultural lands and scorching heatwaves impacting crop yields. This, coupled with a continuously rising population, creates a perfect storm for food insecurity.

However, Pakistan is not without options. Here are some remedies to consider:

* Investing in Climate-Smart Agriculture: Embracing new technologies like drought-resistant crop varieties and efficient irrigation systems can significantly improve agricultural resilience. Additionally, promoting sustainable farming practices that minimize environmental impact is crucial.

* Water Management: Pakistan faces a severe water scarcity. Modernization of irrigation infrastructure, rainwater harvesting techniques, and efficient water usage across sectors can help conserve this precious resource.

* Early Warning Systems: Implementing robust weather forecasting and early warning systems can allow farmers to prepare for extreme weather events, minimising crop losses.

Pakistan’s recent collaboration with Saudi Arabia for agricultural investment offers a glimmer of hope. Saudi Arabia’s interest in corporate farming on unused land could potentially boost agricultural production and introduce advanced technologies. However, it is crucial to ensure that such investments prioritize sustainable practices and benefit Pakistani farmers in the long run.

The fight against climate change and food insecurity requires a multi-pronged approach. By embracing innovative methods, prioritizing resource conservation, and leveraging international partnerships, Pakistan can navigate the challenges of a changing climate and ensure food security for its citizens. This fight requires not just government action, but also public awareness and participation. Educating farmers about climate-smart practices and encouraging sustainable consumption habits are key components of a successful strategy.

Climate change casts a long shadow over Pakistan’s food security. Rising temperatures, erratic weather patterns, and water scarcity threaten agricultural productivity, potentially leading to devastating food insecurity in the coming decade. However, despair is not an option. By acknowledging these challenges and taking proactive measures, Pakistan can build a more resilient food system.

Seeking expert solutions

To gain a deeper understanding of the situation, consultations were held with various agricultural experts. Their insights informed about the development of a comprehensive action plan. Notably, Ashar Ali Zaidi, a respected local cattle and agri-farmer, shared his vision for a sustainable future.

Zaidi’s proposed action plan outlines a clear path towards food security in three phases:

* Immediate action (0-2 years): This phase prioritizes immediate interventions to build resilience. Initiatives will focus on promoting drought-resistant crops, micro-irrigation technologies, and water conservation practices. Additionally, strengthening early warning systems will be crucial to prepare farmers for extreme weather events.

* Building resilience (2-5 years): The focus here is on long-term adaptation strategies. Training programmes on climate-smart agriculture will empower farmers with essential skills. Investments in climate-proof infrastructure and seed security will further enhance resilience. Strengthening Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) is equally important to ensure access to resources and market opportunities.

* Long-term sustainability (5+ years): This phase emphasizes long-term solutions. Integration of renewable energy sources into agricultural operations will reduce dependence on fossil fuels and contribute to climate change mitigation. Continued investment in research and development will lead to the creation of innovative agricultural technologies and drought-resistant crops. Additionally, promoting sustainable land management practices and fostering international collaboration will be the key.

* Say ‘no’ to corporate farming forever: Large corporations often prioritize short-term profits over sustainable practices. This can lead to land grabs, displacing small farmers who have a deep understanding of local conditions and traditional knowledge. Losing control over land weakens rural communities and their vital role in food production.

Environmental degradation: corporate farms often rely on intensive monoculture practices, depleting soil fertility and requiring excessive water and chemical inputs. This can lead to long-term land degradation, threatening future agricultural productivity.

Water depletion: large-scale farming often uses unsustainable water extraction methods, further straining Pakistan’s already stressed water resources. This leaves small-scale farmers with even less water for their crops, jeopardizing their livelihoods and overall food production.

Loss of seed diversity: corporate farming often promotes reliance on a few commercially available, high-yielding but genetically-modified seed varieties. This reduces biodiversity, making crops more susceptible to pests and diseases. Small farmers, on the other hand, often preserve and utilize diverse, locally adapted seed varieties, crucial for resilience in the face of climate change

* Empowering small-scale farmers is the way forward: Small-scale farmers are more likely to adopt sustainable practices like crop rotation, cover cropping, and organic farming. These methods improve soil health, conserve water, and promote overall ecosystem health, ensuring long-term agricultural sustainability.

Climate resilience: small farmers have a deeper understanding of local conditions and use traditional knowledge to adapt to changing weather patterns. Government support for climate-smart agriculture training and technologies can further enhance their resilience to climate change.

Water management: small farmers are more likely to adopt water-efficient irrigation methods like drip irrigation, maximizing water use while reducing waste. Government initiatives promoting rainwater harvesting and traditional water management techniques can further improve water efficiency.

Food security and diversity: small-scale farmers cultivate a wider variety of crops, leading to greater food security and dietary diversity. This strengthens local food systems and reduces dependence on imported food, which can be vulnerable to disruptions.

Beyond the plan: public participation

Combating food insecurity requires everyone’s involvement. Educating the public about responsible consumption habits like reducing food waste and adopting plant-based diets can significantly contribute to the solution.

By implementing this multi-pronged approach with urgency and public support, Pakistan can ensure a stable food supply for generations to come. It’s time to take action and build a food-secure future for all.

(The writer is Fraud Examination (ACAMS) Certified. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the newspaper)

Syed Yousuf Raza, "Prioritising sustainable, small-scale farming," Business recorder. 2024-04-14.
Keywords: Health sciences , Human health , Natural changes , Water scarcity , Climate change , Food security , Food insecurity , Natural phenomena , Management , Ashar Ali Zaidi , Pakistan , ACAMS , Law , UNO

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