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Contribution of Arid Agriculture: The Way We Think!

Arid Agriculture is a crucial driver of future food security.

Photo of Girdhari Lal
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Laar Green Development Organization

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Under 1 year

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Badin, Sindh

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Pakistan

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Tharparkar, district of Sindh province in Pakistan, covers an area of 19,638 km². One of our team member is native to this place.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Pakistan

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

This place is most identical for our vision. The Climate, Ecosystem and the soil texture is particularly justifying our vision. Another reason to select this place is the native connectivity of our leading team member to this place. He (Team Member) is well known about the social, cultural, economical and most importantly agricultural practices. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The Tharparkar district name derived from two words Thar and Parker. The name Thar is from Thul, the term for the regions sand ridges and the word Parkar means “to cross over”. Tharparker district situated in the south-east of Sindh Province. Thari culture is combination of the Rajistani, Gujrati and Sindhi Culture. However the Rajistani Culture is rich over two. Dhatki is spoken language of Tharparkar and is also know as Thari. Thari is basically a rajistani language and is the mostly used for oral communication. However some people there also speak Sindhi, Marwari and Urdu. 

The thari desert is packed with folklores which are a very important part of the thari culture. Thar indeed a place where folk songs and folklore actually exist in their original form. The thari life is very adventurous for visitors who visit so as to explore the indigenous cultures, traditions and lifestyles. A number of the peculiar scenes of the desert include the Sun- rising and sun-setting scenes viewed from atop of a due camel caravans, big and small sand dunes with thorny bushes, the grazing herds, traditional dresses and jewelry of women, folk songs sung in wilderness. The Thari’s are very hospitable, honest and hardworking people. Quite 80% of the people livelihood is relies upon the livestock and rain fed agriculture.

The Thari women wear ghagra’s  which are long swirling skirts and work in fields and work with their counterparts and help them earn wheat to feed their families. They cover their faces with veils while wearing silver jewelry. The veil protects them from the desirous eyes of men and it also saves them from harsh sun and sand. Thari men are mostly dark and tall and most of them have mustaches and keep beards too.

Thar faces the Pre-Monsoon weather which goes on from the month of April to the month of June. The hottest temperatures are observed in the month of June during which the temperatures vary between 35 to 45 degrees at times.

The people of Thar are very creative when it comes to arts and crafts. Pottery, wood items, Carpets, Puppets, leather items, Block Prints, Metal Wares, Tie and Dye Fabrics are a few arts and crafts of Thar. The handicrafts heritage is a very fine combination of colours and textures. These handicrafts are what constitutes mainly of their economy. Many fairs and festivals are held in the region which provides opportunity to the villagers from remote areas and villages to meet each other. This way livestock deals are also stuck and they all get to enjoy their cultural music and dances together.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

1650000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Pakistan has made remarkable progress in food production over the last decades. However, food security has remained a key challenge due to excessive population growth, rapid urbanization, high price fluctuation, erratic food production, slow purchasing power, and inefficient food distribution systems. Food insecurity in Pakistan is primarily ascribable to the limited economic access of the poorest and most vulnerable to food. Below mentioned major challenges that our food system have been facing and if not addressed in due time, than the challenges may worst.. 

  • Climate change effects on agriculture
  • Lack of water management in arid-regions
  • Lack of utilization of arid land for agriculture
  • Lack of technology to utilize underground water
  • Lack of Agriculture/Informal Education
  • Low priority to mainstreaming women contribution in value added agriculture and family nutrition 
  • Inadequate non-farm income opportunities, particularly in the marginalized and remote areas
  • Lack of innovative livelihood practices, i.e., medicinal plants, fisheries, bee-keeping, local food products, seed production, rural poultry, and fruit orchard nurseries etc. 
  • Inefficient utilization of land and water resources
  • Low level of affordability for nutritious food by the poor segments of the society
  • Problems with the quality, quantity, and timing of supply of agricultural inputs
  • Lack of infrastructure and technologies for post-harvest management and value addition
  • Slow rate of diffusion of technological innovations 
  • Lack of qualified human resources for food security and food systems analysis 
  • Placement of non-qualified persons in food departments
  • Pakistan’s status as low riparian state in the arid region
  • Less focus on dietary diversity, nutrition and healthy food 
  • Low farm gate prices, high price fluctuations and declining international prices
  • Inadequate market infrastructure and trade restrictions
  • Degradation of natural resources (land, water, rangelands, pastures, and forests)

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The core of our vision, arid agriculture, particularly stating all the main themes. Environment friendly aspects of arid agriculture are more sustainable then current common agricultural practices. Arid areas offer large undeveloped land and a climate conducive to plant growth and can provide high yielding cultivation on condition that water is available. Arid land fertilization can contribute to the ecosystem in hazardous climate change situations. The cultivation practices in arid areas require low pesticides, insecticides and fungicides as the region have lowest attack rate of pests, insects and fungus. Moving water into arid areas and the introduction of irrigated agriculture through utilizing ground water can constitute a key element for increased global production.

Improving agricultural practices is only solution to prevent hunger and malnutrition. People from arid regions with food insecurity and malnutrition i.e. Africa, can overcome by their self. Cultivation in arid areas can ensure the balanced diet with producing many pure organic foods. The place on which this vision is based on, have high potential of farm manure as major part of the population is involved in livestock i.e. goats, sheep. People have the animal farms on random places in the area though the rain water take all manure to the downhill side, making the land more fertile.

Agriculture is considered a major contributor to the global economy. The vision of arid agriculture has a long lasting effect on economy. The increasing gap between supply and demand raise uncertainty for food security. Excessive use of poisonous pesticides and insecticides, day by day rising need to use more and more inorganic fertilizers as already fertile land is losing efficiency of production due to constant cultivation are leading the world to demand organic food. value added element of the place chosen for this vision is the availability of medicinal plants in the region. Range of plants like Mukul Myrrh tree, Cactus (milk hedge), Acacia Senegal, Caper, Apple of Sodom, Calligonum Polygonoides, Prosopis Cineraria, Castor, Desert teak, Mustard tree, Alexandrian Senna, Bitter apple, and Aloevera have a high medicinal and commercial importance.

People from the vision place (Tharparkar) have a traditional approach to mostly cultivate traditional crops like Pearl Millet, Guar, Sorghum, Sesame, Water Melon, Wild melon, and some type of Pulse on rain water. All these crops are purely organic. Some of these species are native to this place but can be found in many other countries. Before two decades people of Tharparkar mostly depend upon wells for drinking water but now the dependency has moved to hand pumps in major and to submersible pumps in minor.

Low literacy rate of Tharparkar made a distance between the residents and agriculture education and advanced agricultural technologies. Some organization have started the initiative to introduce drip irrigation system and solar powered tube wells in the region but found rarely. Advanced methods of agriculture can be learned and adopted by the people through agricultural education extension. Information technology can play a major role in agricultural education extension as the region is 90% accessible to mobile networks.

Policy makers have not showed much interest in the region which ultimately results the uncertainty among the people of the vision place. The fundamentals of any development are concern with the policies and to uplift the arid agriculture vision it is essential to consider it in policy making. A mega policy design can create employment opportunity in arid region, public private partnership funded programs, agribusiness education seminars etc. Hence, the vision of the Contribution of Arid Agriculture is very sound and clear, it will make ensure all the themes even after 2050.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Facebook

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