This proposal suggests strategies/solutions to assess, absorb, adapt, and ameliorate the effects of climate change on Pakistan agriculture.
Pakistan is one of the countries badly affected by climate change, despite of the fact that its contribution to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is among the lowest (less than 1%) in the world.
Important effects of climate change on Pakistan include a) increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions; b) sudden unproductive torrent rains; c) increase in heat and water-stressed conditions; d) Uncertainty in weather conditions; e) prolonged summer seasons and shrinkage of winter season: there is shrinkage of winter season from the start months (instead of starting from Mid September-October, it starts from Mid November-December) and prolonged winter to the end months (it may continue till April-May); f) reduction in forest cover; and g) salinization of Indus river water due to sea water intrusion. This multitude of effects is badly affecting Pakistan agriculture.
The most alarming component of the scenario is the ruthless sluggish attitude at the government level to frame a coordinated national policy to address the aftermath of climate change.
In this proposal, strategies/suggestions are proposed to assess, absorb, adapt, and ameliorate the effects of climate change on Pakistan agriculture. If these are properly implemented, it is humbly hoped that climate change will be turned into a blessing for Pakistan agriculture.
What actions do you propose?
Following solutions/strategies are proposed to assess, absorb, adapt and ameliorate the effects of climate change on Pakistan agriculture.
1. Assess and Absorb
- The Pakistan Climate Change Council (PCCC) be established on priority basis to implement Kyoto protocol and Paris agreement. It should be responsible for coordinating all activities for climate change adaptation by bringing all the stakeholders on one page.
- Meteorological department should precisely assess the climate of a particular locality (at least at district level) and simulate the changes in climate compared to the past 2-3 decades.
- Meteorological department in collaboration with the Agricultural Extension Wing should assess the effect of climate change on a) individual crop basis, and b) summer and winter season basis.
- PCCC should work with Agriculture Research and Extension Wing, Meteorological department and farmer representatives to absorb effects of climate change on the basis of collected data and information.
2. Adapt and Ameliorate
1. Agriculture Research Wing should foster its efforts for the development of climate-resilient crop variety seeds. Agriculture Research Wing should work in strong collaboration with Meteorological department and Agricultural Extension Wing. It should evaluate variety at the multitude of diverse climate conditions prevailing at a particular locality. After this evaluation, a variety which perform better under multitude of climate conditions (e.g., at low, medium, and high-precipitation conditions), should be approved for commercial cultivation in that particular locality.
2. Climate change has resulted in decrease of per hectare yield of maize, sugarcane, and wheat. Wheat is sensitive to high temperature during April-May. It is also sensitive to low temperature and rains during April-May. As these climatic trends have become frequent in wheat-growing areas of Pakistan, agriculture research wing should develop varieties for these important crops on the basis of above-mentioned climate change trends.
3. In the highly-flood-prone areas of Pakistan, there should be construction of medium-sized Water Reservoirs in every locality for proper storage of extra-surplus rain water during sudden torrent rains. This will greatly reduce chances of floods in these areas.
4. There should be involvement of the local bodies representatives and NGOs for the mobilization of individual farmer for adaptation measures.
5. The main actions proposed to carry out lie with the individual farmer. A behavioral and social mindset change is very crucial for the climate change adaptation at individual farmer level. Following actions are proposed to be carried out by the individual farmer:
- Change in the existing crop rotation pattern:
Due to a change in climate at locality level, a complete re-shuffling of the existing crop rotation pattern is needed. This re-shuffling of the crop rotation pattern be wisely and precisely suggested by the local officer of the Agriculture Extension Wing in consultation with the meteorological department. This will improve the sustainability of the local cropping system and strengthen the economic conditions of the farmers.
- Precise adjustments of the agricultural practices with the changed climatic conditions.
- As majority of the farmers in Pakistan are small land-holders, it is the responsibility of the government to give them financial support for climate change adaptation measures. It is a common practice with small farmers that they raise their own seeds for most of the crops they produce. These crop variety seeds they use year after year. These crop variety seeds have become less productive due to the changed climatic conditions. Individual farmers must replace these seeds with the newly developed seeds by the Agriculture Research Institutes better suited under changed climate conditions. Agriculture Extension Wing should also be mobilized for this action. Government should financially support farmers for the purchase of new variety seeds.
- Each farmer should plan his cropping pattern by including low-, medium-, and high-water requiring crops in his cropping systems. This combination of cropping system will be more sustainable under uncertain climate conditions.
6. Genomic characterization of important crop plants for climate change adaptation at my lab in the department of Botany, Government College University, Faisalabad, Pakistan will help in a proactive approach to explore genomic potential of important crop plants for sustained production under diverse climate conditions. This genomic characterization of important crop plants will help Agricultural Research Institutes to develop climate-resilient crop varieties in less time and cost.
By implementing all these actions in a judicious manner, the effects of climate change can be ameliorated and Pakistan will be on the way of sustained economic development.
Who will take these actions?
The key actors to carry out suggested strategies/plans in this proposal will be:
- Pakistan Climate Change Council (PCCC) will be responsible for coordinating all the activities suggested in this proposal.
- Agricultural Research Institutes at provincial and national level. It will be their responsibility to develop crop varieties better suited to a multiplex of climatic conditions.
- Agricultural Extension Wings at provincial level to disseminate the first hand-solutions related to crops in every locality. These should work as a strong and reliable bridge between the research institutes and the local farmers.
- Meteorological department at the provincial and national level to precisely assess and predict the climate changes of a specific locality.
- My lab at the department of Botany, Government College University, Faisalabad, Pakistan for genomic characterization of important crop plants for their potential for sustained production under changed environmental conditions.
- Local bodies representatives: their involvement will be helpful for local community mobilization as a whole for the implementation of suggested actions at locality level.
- Individual Farmer's mobilization to accelerate efforts to re-shape his existing cropping system and life-style to better suit changed climate conditions.
Where will these actions be taken?
The actions suggested in this proposal will be taken at:
- Construction of Water Reservoirs will be done at the highly-flood-prone areas of Pakistan. The costs for the construction of these reservoirs be demanded by the government of Pakistan from the Green Climate Fund, created by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010.
- Mobilization of Agricultural Research and Extension Wings will be carried out at the provincial and national level of Pakistan.
- Involvement and mobilization of local bodies representatives will be made in provinces of Pakistan.
- Mobilization of individual farmers at each locality of Pakistan will be carried out through active participation and collaboration of Agriculture extension wing and local bodied representatives.
- Genomic studies will be carried out at my lab in the department of Botany, Government College University, Faisalabad, Pakistan.
What are other key benefits?
- Construction of Water Reservoirs will be helpful to store extra-surplus water in case of sudden torrent rains. During water-stressed conditions, stored water in these reservoirs could be used for irrigating crops. This will ensure sustainability of agriculture system and strengthened the local economy of farming community. It will enhance sustained economic growth of the country.
- Mobilization of the Agriculture Research and Extension Wing will enhance their capacity to work in a proactive manner to plan strategies ahead of time in view of a catastrophe.
- Genomic studies at my lab will set up infra-structure and made available trained work force well-equipped with modern genomic tools to work for long-term solutions of national interest.
What are the proposal’s costs?
- As most of the suggestions relate to re-shape the existing strategies/practices at the national and provincial agriculture research institutes, agriculture extension wings, irrigation departments, and meteorological departments, there are no associated costs with this component of the proposal.
- Funds for the construction of Water Reservoirs can be demanded from the Green Climate Fund, created by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010.
- Costs of "genomics of climate change adaptation studies' at my lab be demanded from Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan and Green Climate Fund of UNFCCC on annual basis as it needs long-term assessment of sustainable potential of important crops under changed climate conditions.
All of the proposed actions will be time lined as follows:
- Mobilization of the Agricultural Research and Extension Wings; and Meteorological department be made on long term basis.
- Construction of Water Reservoirs be completed on short term basis. After their construction, these be made functional on long term basis.
- Genomic characterization of important crop plants should continue on short, medium, and long term basis.
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