Thursday May 23, 2024

Capital suggestion: Cholistan Desert

By Dr Farrukh Saleem
October 08, 2023

Here is a partial list of countries where their national armies play a significant role in the agriculture sector: China, Israel, India, Russia, Brazil, Egypt, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Myanmar, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Sudan, Ethiopia, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

Pakistan currently produces $60 billion worth of agricultural products. The Cholistan desert is spread over some 25,800 square kilometers. Implementing SMART farming techniques in Cholistan has the potential to yield an additional $60 billion from the cultivation of oranges, avocados, blueberries, grapes, apples, lemons, olives, nectarines, corn, wheat, and rice.

Can we successfully convert Cholistan into sustainable farmland? There will be two key determinants of this transformation: effective water management and advanced technology. Water management strategies would have to include rainwater harvesting, diverting floodwaters to Cholistan, and incorporating recycling practices. Importantly, the requisite technology for accomplishing sustainable farmland conversion in Cholistan already exists.

Can we transform Cholistan into sustainable farmland? The answer lies in precision irrigation, where SMART farming has evolved from drip irrigation to automated irrigation, variable rate irrigation (VRI), wireless sensor networks, the Internet of Things (IoT), growth based irrigation (GBI) and now algorithm-based, AI-driven irrigation.

Can we transform Cholistan into sustainable farmland? Not without leveraging technology, data, and automation to optimize various aspects of farming, including irrigation, fertilization, and pest control. Not without crop-specific tailoring. Not without remote monitoring and control. Not without algorithm-based irrigation systems. Not without minimizing water wastage, promoting solid health, and optimizing crop yields. Not without installing systems that precisely analyze factors such as solid moisture levels, weather forecasts, and crop needs to make informed decisions about when and how much water to apply.

Can we transform Cholistan into sustainable farmland? Achieving this goal necessitates a holistic approach that leverages cutting-edge technology, harnesses the power of data, and incorporates automation to optimize every facet of agricultural practice.

In Cholistan, where arid conditions and limited water resources pose significant challenges to agriculture, the adoption of advanced techniques is paramount. Algorithm-based irrigation systems, driven by real-time data and intelligent algorithms, will play a pivotal role.

As we strive to transform Cholistan into sustainable farmland, it is not a question of ‘Can we?’ but rather ‘How can we?’ The answer lies in integrating VRI technology and GPS sensors. The answer lies in the synergy between technology, data-driven insights, automation, and the unwavering commitment to harnessing these tools to nurture the land and secure a prosperous agricultural future for the region. With the right strategies, Cholistan can become a shining example of how technology and sustainable practices can turn arid lands into fertile farmlands.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. He tweets/posts @saleemfarrukh and can be reached at: