Dr Saeed Ahmed Ali
LAHORE, Mar 15 (APP):Agriculture being the backbone of Pakistan’s economy contributes over 24 percent of the total GDP by engaging around 68 percent of the workforce who are either directly or indirectly making contribution to 62 percent exports of the country.
However, during the recent years, irregular rain patterns and altering temperatures have badly affected the crop yields in the country. As a result, the crops have gained more economic importance due to its ever increasing demand in the market.
Over the years, policymakers have emphasized to increase productivity of crops such as maize, wheat, rice, sugarcane, cotton to meet the needs of the growing population. But the climate change and environmental issues are causing multiple damages to the crops productivity and forest cover due to uncertain temperatures, irregular and untimely rain.
According to agricultural field study of Jinnah Institute, a Think Tank forum, under the title ‘wheat production under climate change impact’ that wheat production was expected to fall by 50 percent South Asian region including Pakistan by 2050.
According to this report, the food security and agricultural related work-force of 100 million people was at risk due to adverse effects of climate change. “Women agriculture workers are more vulnerable as 66 percent of them constitute the total number of labour-force,” the report added.
Similarly, a Bahauddin Zakariya University Published report revealed that Mango and Orange yields had been impacted by the climate change issues, causing damage worth millions of dollars annually.
Pakistan’s Bureau of Statistics data said that almost 44 percent of the country’s work-force due to the climate change issues was losing grains and fruits at a considerable pace.
According to the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth assessment report, the human activity was directly responsible for the unsustainable calamity of climate change.
Likewise, as per the data shared by the Agriculture Department, Government of the Punjab, the province among crops has a 57 percent of the total cultivated and 69 percent of the total cropped area of Pakistan.
Being one of the largest provinces, it contributes a major share in the agricultural economy of the country by providing about 83 percent of cotton, 80 percent of wheat, 97 percent fine aromatic rice, 63 percent of sugarcane, 51 percent of maize to the national food production.
Among fruit yields, mango accounts for 66 percent, citrus more than 95 percent, guava 82 percent and dates 34 percent of total national production of these fruits, it further added. As a accumulative view, the data further observed that the country’s total cropped area is 23.4 million hectares (Mh), which represent 29 percent of the total area of which irrigated areas make up 18.63 Mh, with the percentage by province of 77 per cent in Punjab, 14 per cent in Sindh, 5 per cent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and 4 per cent in Balochistan.
Talking to APP, Environmental Researcher in Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Kashif Mehmood Salik said that climate change patterns were now reaching at alarming levels, causing various disasters in the form of irregular rains, floods, droughts and other natural calamities across the country.
He said, “If we view in the aftermath of 2010’s torrential floods, one fifth of the country’s land area was submerged, adding the torrential rains had severely damaged the economy and agricultural infrastructure of the country.” These floods had impacted the livelihoods of millions of people, leaving 90 million people food-insecure. Similarly, in 2012, Pakistan was among those countries whose crops production was badly affected by the climate change effects.
It is pertinent to mention that Punjab government for compensating crop productivity loss, has initiated a crop insurance (Punjab Fasal Bema Programme) for farmers to financially support them to recover from climatic or other disasters.
Dr Shehzad Basra, an agricultural scientist and crop expert said that the objective of this program was to enhance the financial resilience of the farmers’ community against the climatic conditions and its impact on the crop yields.
The incumbent government has initiated several programs to mitigate the impacts of climate change such as Go Green Pakistan, Clean Green Pakistan, Billion Tree Tsunami, ban on plastic bags, renewable energy resources and launching of e-cars to address the environmental issues and reduce carbon emission.
Due to consistent efforts of the government, Pakistan has received another global recognition by a 24-Member Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), who has elected Pakistan as Co-Chair for one year (2020), representing developing countries. The GCF is a world global platform which has been established by 194 governments to control or reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in the developing countries.