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Pakistan

PPI
April 22, 2019

Desertification causing food, agriculture loss

Pakistan

PPI
Mon, Apr 22, 2019

KARACHI: Desertification in Sindh province is rising in arid semi arid and riverine areas with each passing day causing food and agriculture loss.

It is occurring in the province due to decreasing water resources, salinity, water logging, global warming, deforestation, urbanization, commercialization and low rains, according to an investigative report.

According to the report, deforestation is one of the major factors contributing to desertification in Sindh. The deforestation in the last three decades has deprived Sindh province of a massive forest cover which subsequently has led to widespread migration, a rise in poverty and destruction to ecology apart from costing an annual loss of millions of dollars to the national exchequer.

The forest cover in Sindh has reduced to 1 9 percent of its total land area forcing over one million people to migrate to other areas in the province in last 30 years.

Forest land in Sindh has been leased out to influential people including politicians and tribal chiefs who have converted it into agriculture land.

As per the UN standards any country or province in the world should have at least 25 per cent of forest cover out of its total land area but unfortunately Sindh is short of 23.10 per cent forest cover.

To reduce desertification also called land degredation forests and agriculture crops should be raised in arid and semi arid areas through tube well system. Low water consuming crops like vegetables should be raised to save soil from desertification besides raising the livelihood of local people, Muhammad Saleem Shaikh, an environment expert at Ministry of Climate Change said.

He said that water logging and salinity in Sindh could also be reduced by using new technologies and methods. Sindh’s coastal area in Badin and Thatta district is badly affected by water logging and salinity which needs to be control to save the soil he concluded.

Field observations state that water shortage in Indus River is causing sea intrusion in Thatta district besides posing such threat to Karachi in future. It was observed that 54 dehs of Thatta district have been intruded by sea since establishment of Pakistan.

An IUCN report says soils affected by various types of salinity and sodicity constitute 5,328 million hectares in Pakistan and 40 in Sindh.

The accelerating rate of desertification in the fragile ecosystems like sandy deserts and coastal areas is rendering many areas unproductive and is threatening the agricultural economy of Sindh.

Desertification is triggered by environmental and climatic factors and anthropogenic activities that ultimately give rise to increased poverty of local communities according to the IUCN report.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification UNCCD demands from the signatories to develop and implement relevant action programmes to address the menace of desertification and land degradation.