40,000 hectares of fertile land becoming saline annually in Pakistan
KARACHI: The fertility of land is reducing and the situation is so worst that United Nations (UN) Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in collaboration with Global Soil Partnership (GSP) is observing World Soil Day as an awareness-raising platform.
Soil experts in Sindh disclosed that around 40,000 hectares of fertile lands of Pakistan, majority in Sindh were becoming saline every year due to salty ground water, which needs serious reclamation and rehabilitation.
“The total cultivated areas of 5.45 million hectares, nearly 57 percent are currently fallow, which is the highest in the country and reflects on the poor water availability, mismanagement and ill-practices of irrigation systems in the province,” Waheed Jamali, Executive Director, Society for Environmental Actions, Reconstruction and Humanitarian response (SEARCH) Pakistan told
SEARCH Pakistan is the only Pakistani partner that is observing the day in collaboration with Global Soil Partnership and FAO in the country.
Jamali said total land area of Sindh, 14.1 million hectares, represents 18 percent of total geographical area of Pakistan, which is 79.61 million hectares, out of which nearly 39 percent or 5.45 million hectares are cultivable.
He said that about 9.9 percent is cultivable wastes and 0.57 million hectares or 4.8 per cent is under forestry and the remaining 8.65 million hectares or 44.2 percent is not available for cultivation.
Out of the salt free, ie cultivated or cropped areas, which are 3.079 million hectares or 57 percent, about 2.321 million hectares (or 42 percent) are salt-affected, Jamali added.
Renowned land rights expert Punhal Sario said that the fertile lands of Pakistan are becoming saline at the rate of 40,000 hectares annually. “This shows that 109 hectares of our land is converting into saline daily. This situation is very alarming, particularly in Sindh, as it is happening faster in this province. The climate of Sindh is arid and hot. It has been observed with concern that since the last couple of decades, the cropped areas have declined,” he said.
Taj Mari, leader of Bhandar Hari Sangat, an NGO said that the use of prime agriculture land for non-agriculture purpose is one of the major problems. The unplanned expansion of towns and industrial estates such as growing cities of Sindh like Karachi, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas are encroaching on very good agriculture lands. Moreover, he said that mining of fertile topsoil for brick casting was also reducing the agricultural potential of affected lands.