Sunday October 02, 2022

Govt must introduce mechanism to stop desertification

By Our Correspondent
August 12, 2022

Islamabad : The government must introduce a mechanism to thwart the threat of desertification in many areas of Sindh, Balochistan, and South Punjab.

According to the local experts, out of total of 79.6 million hectares, 62 million hectares of Pakistan’s total land are vulnerable to desertification, especially in these areas.

There are various factors that are contributing to desertification such as drought, overgrazing, over-exploitation of land and water resources, over-cultivation of marginal lands, deforestation, soil erosion, water logging and salinity, and the use of inappropriate agricultural technologies.

Rashid Baloch, an agriculturist, said the loss of vegetation cover has already increased risk of zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19 but the more concerning issue is desertification in many areas of Southern Punjab.

“Periodic droughts are the primary cause of desertification. South Punjab has been experiencing this problem due to various reasons that need the attention of the government,” he said.

A report compiled by the climate change ministry stated that the programmes that can address desertification included afforestation/agroforestry in degraded areas; improved crop production in dry lands; improved range/livestock feeding and management; soil and water conservation, water harvesting, and efficient use of water resources.

Other preventive actions included integrating land and water management to protect soils from erosion, salinization, and other forms of degradation; and protecting the vegetative cover, which could be a major instrument for soil conservation against wind and water erosion.

With almost 80 percent of the country's area consisting of arid or semi-arid land, however, much of Pakistan's agricultural land is vulnerable to desertification -- the process by which arable land becomes desert due to drought, deforestation, and inappropriate agricultural practices.

An official said “The green initiatives aim at supporting the voluntary Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets by 2030 and also implementing National Action Programme to Combat Desertification. Restoring lands degraded due to outpouring desertification and seething droughts will not only lead to economic resilience but also help create jobs in the country.”