Challenges and Strategies for Dryland Agriculture in Pakistan
- Abdul Rashid,
- John Ryan and
- Mushtaq A. Chaudhry
Pakistan is a predominately an arid to semi-arid country of about 140 Mn people, and has 22 Mha of cultivated area, about 5 Mha of which is rainfed and the rest irrigated; irrigated agriculture being predominant. Dryland agriculture is synonymous with rainfed (barani) conditions, where land holdings are small and often fragmented. Dryland rainfall (125–1000 rom) is bimodal, mainly (∼60%) monsoonal and highly erratic. Rainfed areas are subhumid (>500 rom), semi-arid (300–500 rom), and arid (<300 rom) with variable constraints and management requirements. As about 70% of the geographical area receives ≤250 rom, and more than 80% receives ≤375 rom, the whole country is more or less arid to semi-arid. Dryland crops include wheat (Triticum spp.), chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench], millet (Panicum miliaceum L.), barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), maize (Zea mays L.), lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.), peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.), rapeseed-mustard (Brassica spp.), and guar seed [Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (L.) Taub.]. A dominant fraction of Pakistan's drylands is rangelands, which, despite being overgrazed, sustain a significant livestock population. Dryland soil and crop management practices are mostly primitive, coupled with major problems of moisture stress and/or uncertainty, credit scarcity, soil erosion, and nutrient depletion. Pakistan's dryland agriculture is a high-risk, low-input enterprise for resource-poor farmers, who frequently use poor quality seed, inadequate and imbalanced fertilizers, and poor crop management practices. Consequently, crop yields are much below their demonstrated achievable potentials. Remedial measures for improving crop productivity include effective rainwater harvesting, land consolidation, improved credit facilities, better soil and water conservation, use of good quality seed, balanced nutrient management, and weed control.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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