By Rabia Sundas,
PhD Scholar Plant Pathology:
As per annals of FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), the state of
food insecurity in the world, as has been estimated in 2017-18, some 775 million people in the low and middle income countries were under nourished. Pakistan is considered as one of the major hubs of agriculture production. But during the last decade Pakistan’s agriculture is facing some serious issues regarding the inputs as well as the economic pressure per capita which is increasing day by day. People are leaving farming and moving towards urban areas in search of
employment. One of these concerns is the increasing economic pressure, due to increasing value of inputs farmers are unable to make both ends meet during the crop season as well as after the harvest. The overall revenue generated is less as compared to their hard work.
Addressing their problems a new emerging concept of “zero budget
natural farming” is being introduced. Basic concept of this structure involves the use of kitchen, livestock and agricultural wastes, both solid and liquid. All these organic waste inputs are free of cost and are naturally occurring as part of our environment and are highly nutritious for our nutrient deficient soils.
To save the future of small holder farming we need to shift our
behaviors towards more sophisticated techniques and management strategies. Awareness is needed to educate the farming community about the importance of using waste instead of burning and degrading it.
Crop residue which can be utilized for mulching is also considered a
good source to increase soil nutrient profile as it forms a layer over the soil reducing water evaporation. A ton of wheat residue contains 4-5kgn, 0.70.9kg P and 9-11kg K, the three major soil nutrients. On the other hand, countries like Pakistan which are already water-deficient may also be able to save precious water.
Seed coatings using cow dung based formulations can help reduce the
use of chemical seed dressings. The application of plant extracts based bio-formulations for pest and pathogen control will ultimately minimize the use of chemical and toxic pesticides. These pesticides are leaching down the oceans and making them toxic for aquatic life.
Bio-formulations are also a source of healthy food free of chemical pesticide residues. The most important and expensive crop input is chemical and synthetic fertilizers. Replacing the traditional chemical fertilizers such as SOP, MOP, SSP, and urea with animal waste directly or
indirectly (from the outlets of biogas plants) either mixed in irrigation water or direct field application can easily fulfill a crops nutritional requirements.
Pakistan’s soils are deficient in organic matter. Composting the kitchen
and garden waste is a globally recognized procedure. The compost is rich in organic matter, cheap, highly nutritious, diversifies beneficial soil micro flora and enhances soil texture.
These strategies will help in better yields and will lead us to meet the
challenges like water shortage, poor soil health, poverty, food insecurity, urbanization, unemployment and above all to face the recent emerging wave of climatic extremes and mal nutrition.