Farmer turns Pakistan’s sand dunes green

One farmer has pioneered drip irrigation to grow to be wasteland right into a fruit orchard in Punjab – however at a value few can reflect. For so long as Hasan Abdullah can take into accout the 50-acre sandy dune on his 400-acre farmland in Sadiqabad, Pakistan’s Punjab province, was an irritant – nothing grew on it.

His farmland lies beside the vast Cholistan desert in a canal irrigated area east of the Indus River in Rahim Yar Khan district. Abdullah inherited it in 2005, when his father kicked the bucket. Until then he were running in data technology.

“The mindset change from the farmers has been slow and despite all out efforts we have been unable to push this water-saving technology,”

Hasan Abdullah 

In 2015, after a lot research, Abdullah took a “calculated risk” of cultivating the “barren” dune using the drip irrigation system. The government’s announcement of a 60% subsidy on drip irrigation was once “a big incentive,” he stated. Agriculture, via wasteful flood irrigation, accounts for over 80% water utilization in a country dealing with critical water shortages.

Today, Abdullah’s dune is a sight to behold: fruit orchards have flourished within the sand. He admitted that without drip irrigation the “dune would never have produced anything.”

    Water combined with fertilizer is performed via pipes with heads known as drippers, explained Abdullah, which liberate a certain amount of water according to minute directly to the roots of each plant across the orchard.

    And because watering is actual, there’s no evaporation, no run off, and no wastage.

    These new water saving techniques can be key to the future survival of Pakistan’s farmers, who face rising water shortages. Pakistan’s in line with capita water availability is very low, but the rural sector is deeply inefficient in its water use and its productiveness is low. Farmers in Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province, develop water in depth plants equivalent to cotton and wheat the use of flood irrigation. Their challenges will most effective grow with climate exchange. The water go with the flow of the Indus River – which the farmers rely on for their water supply – is expected with the speedy retreat of the Himalayan glaciers.

    The power of the drip

    Using drip irrigation, farmers can save up to 95% of water and cut back fertiliser use, compared to floor irrigation, in keeping with Malik Mohammad Akram, director general of the On Farm Water Management (OFWM) wing in the Punjab government’s agriculture division. In flood irrigation – the traditional method of agriculture within the region – a farmer uses 412,000 litres in keeping with acre, whilst using drip irrigation the similar land can also be irrigated with just 232,000 litres of water, he explained.

    The water on Abdullah’s dune is pumped from a canal – which is part of the Indus Basin irrigation device – right into a reservoir constructed at the land. “Being at the tail end [of the canal system], we needed to be assured the availability of water at all times and thus we had to construct a reservoir,” mentioned Abdullah. For years now, farmers on the head of the canals have been “stealing” water causing much misery for farmers downstream.

    Costly savings

    But drip irrigation is expensive. Out of Abdullah’s 40 acres of orchards on drip irrigation, 30 acres are on sand dunes and ten acres are on land adjoining to the dune, locally referred to as “tibba” – a small sand dune surrounded by agricultural land. On the 30 acre-dune patch, Abdullah grows oranges on 18, feutral (another number of orange) on some other six acres, lemons on five acres and on one acre he has experimented with rising olives, which bore fruit this year.

    “If we were doing traditional farming, our costs would have been much higher. We would need a tractor, six to eight labourers and a lot more water,”

    Hasan Abdullah 

    In took three years of “micromanaging the orchards” earlier than the orange and olive bushes started fruiting final 12 months. “We hope to break even this year and next year we should be in profit,” he stated. It will take every other four years to recoup all his investment, he calculated.

    Abdullah was the first farmer to experiment with this new method. Among many demanding situations that got here his means was to get his farmhands to know the new method of watering.

    Akram has had a equivalent enjoy, “It is difficult for a traditional farmer to come to terms with it. Unless he sees the soaked soil with his eyes, he cannot believe the plant has been well watered.”

    Solar provides respite

    While Abdullah used to be saving water, the price of diesel for operating water pump was proving astronomical. Abdullah would possibly not had been ready to hold on farming with drip irrigation had the government now not introduced an 80% subsidy on solar energy plantsfor farmers in 2018. He promptly took it up.

    “Solar has been a life saver for us,” he mentioned. Not most effective did the running prices lower significantly, the sun machine paid for itself in just one year, leaving best the prices of labour, fertilisers and chemical compounds.

    Cultivating using drip irrigation is also now not labour in depth. Abdullah’s 40-acres are tended to by means of simply four labourers, who no longer most effective look after the orchards and watering device, but manage the solar plant too. “If we were doing traditional farming, our costs would have been much higher. We would need a tractor, six to eight labourers and a lot more water,” he stated

    For his orchards, the drip irrigation runs for roughly seven hours each day. “If it were running on diesel, we would be consuming 35 litres of diesel a day at the cost of PKR 4,270 (USD 30) per day,” Abdullah estimated.

    Furthermore because it’s precision watering to the roots, weed growth is minimal.


    Since he set up his drip machine, Abdullah has gained a path of tourists. A Young farmer from neighbouring Bahawalpur who visited the dune in 2015 was so impressed he arrange the drip irrigation over 700 acres of land he used to be taking a look after for an ex-army officer.

    “Ours is the only farm in Pakistan that has set up a drip irrigation system over such a huge tract – and in the desert too,” said Asif Riaz Taj, who manages Infiniti Agro and Livestock Farm. Now in their fourth year, the orchards have began fruiting over 70 acres. But it will now not be prior to its sixth 12 months, Taj said, that they are going to “break even”. The drip irrigation and solar plant was put in at a value of PKR 25 million (USD 174,000), and the per 30 days running value of this farm is almost PKR 4 million (USD 28,000).

    Infiniti’s orchards get water from each groundwater the usage of turbines as well as from the canal. “We have installed a 150 kilowatts solar plant for extracting water,” stated Taj. The space isn’t totally sandy, such as the dune on Abdullah’s land, but it is still arid, and advantages massively from drip irrigation.

    Abdullah acknowledged that the drip system required an enormous preliminary investment and warned that “unless one had strong financial backing”, it might be difficult.

    “Our upfront cost was PKR 3.5 million (USD 25,000), but our running costs [of farming on the dune and tibba] went up to PKR 10 million (USD 70,621),” he defined. He used to be fortunate he had income coming from his other just about 400 acres of land the place he grows sugar cane, cotton and wheat.

    Drip irrigation fails to fly

    Despite any such resounding good fortune at Abdullah’s farm, saving on water and the horny executive subsidies, few farmers are taking to drip irrigation, stated OFWM’s Akram. Nevertheless since 2012, his department has installed 50,000 techniques on five,000 sites (with an average dimension of 10 acres). It should have been much more.

    “The mindset change from the farmers has been slow and despite all out efforts we have been unable to push this water-saving technology,” he admitted.

    The installation costs are prohibitively prime despite the 60% subsidy, Akram mentioned. Farmers also say drip irrigation is not appropriate for a wide variety of irrigation, particularly no longer for row farming like wheat, maize and rice.

    Farmers complain that the agricultural department and the company don’t provide correct after sales products and services. The untrained and uneducated farmers have to find answers themselves or are left to the mercy of the drip machine supplier. Corroborating this, Abdullah stated: “That is one of the biggest causes of failures.”

    Akram vehemently denied this, pronouncing that the each corporate selling the drip irrigation system and the agriculture division handhold farmers, coaching them to resolve system faults coming their means.

    Abdullah, on the other hand, is likely one of the converts. He plans to extend the drip irrigation additional for olives and mango orchards as soon as income are up.

    Watering Plants While on Vacation

    Plants need water. You may like to take your holiday in the peak of summer, but being left on my own for every week or two is difficult in your lawn. Your garden will fare higher in the event you concerned with drought tolerant vegetation and you have mulched and gotten your lawn right down to wanting just one watering per week. Even so, scorching temperatures, spotty showers, and unexpected issues can set you up for unhappiness when you come house. You can always pray for rain, but here are some more effective concepts for watering your crops while you’re on vacation.

    Water Well and Mulch

    If you’re only going to be long past every week or much less, you may be able to escape with a good soaking and a layer of mulch. Mulched crops lose 25% less water than unmulched plants. Of path, all of it is determined by the elements. Some vegetation would possibly wilt or turn out to be stressed out, but you probably would possibly not lose any.

    If you already have a couple of inches of mulch at the garden mattress, you almost certainly do not want to upload more. You are not looking for the mulch to be so deep that the crown of the plant is buried. In this situation, simply ensure that the soil underneath the mulch is wet several inches under the outside. Push your shovel thru and check in different spots.

    If you need so as to add more mulch, you do not wish to re-mulch all the mattress. Mulching around the plant roots will suffice.

    Install Drip Irrigation

    Drip irrigation may sound like an not possible activity, but the procedure is relatively simple and you’ll be able to purchase reasonably priced kits that principally pop in combination. Unfortunately, that is better done at the beginning of the growing season. It is more challenging to lay the hoses once plants are massive and rising – however it’s not not possible.

    Drought tolerant, or xeric plants, can just about maintain themselves, once they’re established

    With drip irrigation, you’ll be able to put a timer on your spigot and not have to take into consideration when to water your lawn. Higher end timers can even sense how a lot rain you’ve gotten and alter accordingly.

    Put a Timer on Your Sprinker

    You are not looking for a drip irrigation device to have the benefit of the usage of a timer. The timer option works just as smartly with an ordinary lawn sprinkler. You may want a couple of sprinklers and connector hoses in case your lawn is unfold out.

    If you have a tendency to modify the layout of your garden from 12 months to yr, sprinklers and soaker hoses can be a better choice, because they are easier to move around than a drip irrigation device would be. Drip irrigation is designed to target every particular person plant, however sprinklers and soaker hoses will water vast spaces.

    Make Use of Your Rain Barrel

    A retailer “free” water. If you might have a rain barrel, attach a soaker hose to it and run it thru your garden. It will leech out slowly and saturate the bottom. Water well, earlier than you allow, and the bottom will absorb that a lot more.

    Don’t concern if it hasn’t been raining sufficient to refill your barrel. You are allowed to cheat and fill it with a hose, for times like this. If your rain barrel holds standing water for any duration of time, remember to use some kind of mosquito keep watch over, or you can be fixing one problem by inviting some other.

    Make Self-Watering Jugs

    Some gardeners have had success making their very own self-watering jugs. Just take some previous, plastic beverage jugs and bottles and poke the tiniest pinholes within the lower facet of the jug. Place the jug in the soil subsequent to your plant, a couple of inches underneath the soil surface. Water the garden smartly, then fill the jug with water, just before you leave, and it will slowly drip further water to the roots.

    Obviously, you are going to need a number of jugs, to water a complete lawn, but you’ll put one jug in between 4 plants and concentrate on the crops that want constant moisture. You can also use this method for packing containers.

    Bring Your Containers to the Water

    Numerous gardens have a number of vegetation in boxes, normally scattered concerning the yard. These boxes require much more water than the crops within the lawn beds. To make sure that they get some water, transfer your boxes into or near your lawn, the place they will get water from the sprinklers.

    To minimize down at the amount of water they’re going to need, move the containers right into a shady house and cluster them together. The will lose much less moisture to evaporation in colour and grouping them together will allow them to create their very own humidity. This will lend a hand prevent wilting all the way through the day.

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    Water Bulbs and Moisture Retaining Materials

    Sometimes you’ll’t transfer your containers or in all probability you might have a container that wishes a lot of supplemental water. Water bulbs or globes and other self-watering gadgets are a good supplement. Be certain to water the container thoroughly, in a while earlier than you permit, and then fill and insert the bulb. The water will slowly drip into the pot and will most often purchase you a few week’s time earlier than the plant wishes more water.

    [su_pullquote]To minimize down at the amount of water they’re going to need, move the containers right into a shady house and cluster them together. [/su_pullquote]

    Another possibility for containers is so as to add some water maintaining subject matter to the soil and even subsequent to garden crops. Buried sponges, newspaper strips, even items of (blank) diapers will absorb extra water and slowly unencumber it back into the soil. Bury or position the fabric and water everything neatly.

    Time Share With Friends

    Form a vacation watering co-op with a number of pals. Make preparations to care for each and every others lawn whilst away on vacation. You’ll maintain their vegetation while they’re away and they’re going to care for yours, whilst you are taking off. Try and make it easier on them by holding the hose at hand and able to go and grouping as many crops in combination as you’ll.

    Hire a Garden Sitter

    If you’re going to be away 2 weeks or longer and your lawn will probably be unattended, your best choice would be to rent any individual to come back in once or twice a week and both use the hose or flip the sprinkler on and off, and perhaps even mow. Check with a lawn clothier or maintenance crew. They won’t do one-time care, but they’re going to most probably be capable of refer you to any person who will.

    Make Your Garden Drought Tolerant

    Hopefully, you will have already chosen plants that may resist a brief duration of drought. Drought tolerant, or xeric plants, can just about maintain themselves, once they’re established. Of direction, all of us grow a prima donna or two, however it is a lot more uncomplicated to maintain a handful of vegetation than an entire lawn.

    If you haven’t incorporated the concept of xeriscaping or water-wise gardening, it is neatly worth taking a look into. You’ll be surprised what number of vegetation are considered reasonably self-sufficient, whether or not going through drought or a wet season.

    Check for Pests

    Do a pest test the week ahead of you leave, to be sure you treat the issue(s) and it doesn’t balloon when you are away. Don’t just spray indiscriminately, but in the event you do see a fungus surroundings in, an animal munching, an infestation of aphids, take action ahead of leaving your garden unattended for a week or extra. It doesn’t take long for a small problem to become a big drawback.

    If it’s an animal drawback, you’ll be able to spray deterrent, add brief fencing, publish an action detector or only a few shiny dangling CDs or noise-makers to lend a hand to confuse the animals like groundhogs and rabbits.

    Shade Cloth and Lathe House

    Protect large portions of your lawn by means of placing colour cloth to diffuse the light. Shade cloth is ceaselessly utilized in greenhouses within the spring, to forestall smooth plants from burning. It can also be used to give protection to gardens in the heat of summer time. You can stretch it throughout a fence or grasp it from two poles, the place needed. For brief use all the way through a vacation, you’ll always use previous sheets, sheer curtains or old monitors. an Everlasting version can be a lathe space.

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    Be Realistic

    Be ready to lose a couple of annuals and unestablished perennials. If it is very hot and dry and if you will be long past every week or longer, it’s inevitable, but it isn’t the end of the sector. When you get back and start watering and tending your garden regularly, issues will perk back up. On the plus side, loss of water and high heat will also decelerate the weeds.

      Keep Harvesting

      Let your folks comprehend it’s k to come back by means of and harvest greens, so they will stay generating and may not draw in animals. Unfortunately, you’ll’t prevent the ripening procedure. Ripe tomatoes will simply fall off the plant and ferment. If others are playing the fruits of your garden, they’re going to be much more likely that can assist you deal with it.

      Keeping Houseplants Watered

      If you will have indoor crops that will likely be fending for themselves while you are away, keep the blinds in part closed, when you are away. This will keep the room cooler and the plants will lose less moisture.

      You must additionally cluster your vegetation in combination, away from direct daylight. The evaporation from their leaves will keep the air humid. Soak the soil in every pot utterly prior to leaving, so that they stay hydrated.

      Make Your Own Self-Waterer

      Use capillary movement. Make a wick with a cotton string, shoestring, or yarn. Thoroughly water your plant. Shove one finish of the string into the soil, about one-inch deep. Firm the soil across the string. Put the opposite end in a bottle or jar of water, relatively upper than the plant container. The water will wick from the container of water, into the soil.

      A soda bottle 16 or 32 ounces. size should stay the soil moist for no less than per week, perhaps longer, relying at the dimension of the pot and the thickness of the string.

      Keep in mind that the string can drip, on its approach into the container. Don’t set this up on a good piece of furniture or near an appliance wire.

      If this seems too complicated, you can always use the watering globes, discussed above.

      UVAS Pattoki Campus sets up drip irrigation plant

      Just 82 kilometers off to Lahore, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) Pattoki Campus has set up drip irrigation plant for efficient use of water right through crop irrigation with the monetary strengthen of multinational corporate Nestle.

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      “There are multiple challenges to curb the water wastage during crop cultivation especially when farmers and agriculture students in Pakistan are not much aware from latest techniques for effective usage of water,”

      UVAS Agriculture Officer Saeed Ahmed briefed the media on Friday at UVAS Pattoki Campus.

      UVAS has experimented to use drip irrigation plant on 6.7 acres university premises on which the college has planted guava and different end result seed. Apart from conducting coaching periods for farmers, the UVAS in collaboration with Punjab Skill Fund introduced six-month short courses in floriculture and horticulture. There are 200 plus scholars who’ve completed university brief lessons certification in twelve months. The certification is approved in 27 countries including European and Middle East international locations.

      Saeed Ahmed stated the method of drip irrigation could save upto 40 to 50 p.c canal water.

      “Keeping in view the water scarcity in coming years in our country the effective use of water would be the most important thing and debate. As agriculture based economy Pakistan farmers should shift their irrigation methods to save energy, and water resources,”

      he added.

      A student Muhammad Tayyab hailing from village Tara Garh of teshil Pattoki instructed The Nation that practical of drip irrigation gave him confidence to paintings to peruse a profession in floriculture filed in or outdoor the country. “I have been given Rs 1500 monthly stipend apart from training and daily practical sessions to find out new solutions for old problems” he stated.
      Sustainable Agriculture Executive at Nestlé Pakistan Allah Bakhsh stated drip irrigation plant has been very a lot effective use of water. “Drip irrigation to distribute water in crops has increased per acres yield capacity of crop also and so far Nestle has set up these plants on 107 acres in 12 different farms across Punjab,” he mentioned.

      “With the help of drip irrigation equipment number of plants and yield per acre could be increased on the same land,” Allah Baksh mentioned.

      Allah Baksh stated cost of putting in place each plant including plant and machine’s pipe, sub pipe is round 0.15 to zero.3m wherein Punjab government to bear 60 p.c value and farmer to speculate 40 percent as in keeping with Nestle CSR scheme”.

      Drip irrigation system beneficial for farmers

      SARGODHA  – The Agriculture Department has urged farmers to install drip irrigation system in their fields as it is cost effective and offers handsome returns.

      According to Agriculture Officer Ramzan Khan Niazi, over 60 per cent water could be saved through drip irrigation, compared with open water courses. He said that the government was also providing 60 per cent subsidy on installation of system.

      He said that drip irrigation system is neat, clean and smooth system in which farmers could save fertilisers, labour, water and timing up to 50 per cent, he said and added that drip irrigation system is beneficial for barren, sand and any other kinds of soil and also reduces weeds.

      He said that a comprehensive campaign has been launched under the Punjab Irrigated-Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project (PIPIP) to overcome water scarcity in the province. He said that under this project, the Agriculture Department is installing drip & sprinkler irrigation and giving subsidy to farmers for installing this system.

      He said it is high time to start water saving awareness campaign as in the next century wars would be fought over water. Drip irrigation installation could help a lot in saving available water. He said that a comprehensive campaign has been launched for increasing per acre yield and reducing cost of cultivation by adopting drip irrigation system.

      The government is helping farmers adopt this system by providing drip irrigation equipment at subsidised rates and providing 60% subsidy on installation of drip irrigation system.