Friday, March 15, 2013

Falling land productivity in Pakistan

The Express Tribune (Pakistan): The agricultural sector, which forms the economic backbone of this 180-million-strong nation, is at risk of losing a fifth of productive arable land due to rising salt content in the soil. Irrigation-induced salination is reducing productivity and can ultimately render 20% of cultivated land unusable, states a report released by the Asian Development Bank, even as the country becomes increasingly exposed to serious water insecurity in the future.

Meanwhile, deterioration of water quality has also risen as a serious concern. The ADB’s findings show that the deterioration of water quality will limit water use, consequently threatening ecosystems and creating a drag on socioeconomic development. The study highlights the need for better water governance, aimed at sustaining ecosystems and ensuring economic use of falling levels of groundwater.

The agriculture sector has a share of slightly over one-fifth share of the overall size of the economy. During the past few years, the country’s economic growth has sustained largely because of growth in the agricultural sector due to post-flood benefits and better returns on crops. In this period, a rampant energy crisis has severely affected industrial growth, and some sub-sectors of the services industry are consequently not performing well.

The study warns that Pakistan is already facing a hazardous situation on the index of national water security. The country needs to introduce some legislation and policy on water and the environment and boost public investment in the water sector, the report urges....

Dust storm over Pakistan, in 2005, via NASA

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