The Director of the Water Management Research Centre (WMRC) at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF), Prof Dr Allah Bakhsh, has expressed deep concern over what he says is the excessive pumping of water by farmers on the Indian side of Punjab. Dr Bakhsh says that excessive pumping is lowering the water table in India, causing water from the Pakistani side to flow to Indian Punjab.
While speaking here at a seminar and workshop on agricultural technologies, he warned that Pakistan’s water storage capacity is abysmally low at 30 days, compared with 120 days in India, 200 days in China and Australia and 500 days in the US. He was of the view that only option left with Pakistan is to increase the crop yield per unit of land and per unit of water consumed.
The two-day seminar had been organised by WMRC and the UAF’s Department of Irrigation and Drainage, and attended by Australian Deputy High Commissioner Paul Molloy, UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan, Dr Tri Nguyen Quang from the Dalhousie University in Canada.
One of the speakers pointed out that India and Pakistan witnessed 20 and 10 billion cubic metres of water depletion respectively during the last six years, out of the 68 billion cubic metres of available surface water. “We are inefficient in using water, fertiliser, horsepower, human capital and other inputs,” he said; adding that: “If the country keeps the same practice, we will soon see a large segment of the population facing food insecurity.”
Talking about precision agriculture, Molloy said that precision farming implies a management strategy to increase productivity and economic returns with a reduced impact on the environment, by taking into account variability within and between fields. He was of the view that precision farming on a regional level is one way to apply this approach to small-farm agriculture, and may also promote the development of rural areas.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2013.