Saturday, March 14, 2009

Climate change affecting agriculture in Karachi

The News (Karachi, Pakistan): Researchers from the University of Karachi (KU) Department of Geography have discovered the relationship between climate change and increase in the incidence of diseases, and the decrease in agricultural products in and around Karachi.

Former chairman of the department Dr Syed Jamil Hasan Kazmi along with his team of researchers worked on the impact of global warming on agriculture in Karachi on vector-born diseases (Malaria and Dengue) and the transformation of ecological systems within the mega city. Dr Kazmi has been working in Gadap, Kathor, Malir, Memon Goth, Darsano Channa and Hub agricultural areas for 20 years. “These were the fertile areas in 60s and provided fresh fruits and vegetables to the city. The mammoth growth of the city adversely affected the agriculture. Now the city meets only 10 per cent of the demand for fruits and vegetables from these areas.”

The irrigation of these agricultural lands was usually through the wells that were providing water after digging 20-30 feet below the surface. The rainfall pattern in the city has changed drastically since 1985, decreasing the frequency and intensity of rain in the city. This has resulted in drought of underground water levels. Now water can only be 400-500 feet deep. The high temperatures have evaporated the rain water quickly leaving the underground water levels dry. Two small ‘Check Dams’ have been built in Thuddo (North East of Super Highway) but it is sufficient for a 20 km area only.

“These people are living in the area for more than 300 years. Agriculture, which is their livelihood, is threatened by the change in climate and urban encroachment over the suburbs of the city. Now they have started sand mining in their areas to compensate for the loss of the agricultural production. This is very harmful as the unchecked removal of sand will create more ecological problems”, says Dr Kazmi….

Wheat harvest at Chirah in the Bagrot Valley, Pakistan, shot by Zensky, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2


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