Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tree planting helps Pakistani farmers weather floods

Saleem Shaikh and Sughra Tunio in AlertNet: Abdul Qadir Shah, a cotton farmer in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, has been able to spring back from the destructive floods of the past two years thanks to his decision to plant mango, date and neem trees on his 14-acre plot.

When floodwaters hit Khairpur Mir’s district, some 400 miles (644 km) northeast of Karachi, in 2010 and then again in 2011, Qadir Shah suffered financial losses of 4 million rupees ($44,000) as his cotton crop was ruined. “But income from mango and date palm trees, which I had planted some four years earlier in my cotton field and on the edges of nearby irrigation waterways, provided enough money to let me repair damaged water channels, buy cotton seed, farm tools and pesticides, and other inputs for cultivating my farmland again this year,” he explained.

...Following the devastating floods, Qadir Shah realised that cultivating trees alongside crops can be of great help when natural disasters wipe out harvests. Now he is spreading the word. “I have persuaded other farmers, who have been unable as yet to emerge from the economic damages from the ravaging floods, to plant trees beside their crops to survive losses from crop failures in the future,” he told AlertNet, pointing to new seven-month-old trees now growing on agricultural land in the area.

As well as providing crucial income, Qadir Shah’s 90 mango trees, 20 date palms and 25 neem trees – whose oil is used in health products - have curbed soil erosion, reduced water evaporation and strengthened the unlined channels that supply irrigation water to his fields from the Khairpur West canal, which is fed by the Sukkur Barrage....

A panorama in Khairpur, shot by Mnazirawan, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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