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«Dissertation Zur Erlangung des akademischen Grades Doctor rerum agriculturarum (Dr. rer. agr) eingereicht an der Landwirtschaftlich-Gärtnerischen ...»

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Natural disasters and climate change: Geographically, Pakistan and other South Asian counties are host to many natural disasters (World Bank Strategy of Region). Pakistan has faced many natural adversities in the past 25 years, e.g., flood, drought, Earth quakes, and wind storms, which might be of the simple storm type or sometimes cyclones. Insect infection and land slides have also been observed in various areas of these countries (Pakistan Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Council (SUPARCO) 2006). All these natural disasters have dire effects on land and inflict degradation of diverse intensity. As shown in Figure 2.3, flooding is the most common adversity that has affected land extremely badly in the last 25 years (Annual Flood Report 2006). In 2010, Pakistan has faced one of the worst floods in the history. Loss during this flood has exceeded more than the total of 2004 Indian Ocean “Tsunami”, 2005 Pakistan earthquake and 2010 Haiti earthquake (UN 2010).

According to the data reported in this report (Table 2.2), 1976, and 1992 were massive flood years that created a great loss in agricultural land in most of the villages all over the country. Twenty percent of rural land and fifteen percent of agricultural land were severely impacted by flooding. Similarly, fifty percent of the flood plains in rural areas and thirty five percent in urban areas were damaged moderately, whereas fifty percent of the land in rural and urban areas was affected slightly. Only thirty percent land was not affected during these floods (Khwaja 2006: 242). But 2010 produced worst flooding in 80 years, estimating the death toll ranged from 1300 to 1600. This recent flood has affected one fifth of the country and has destroyed about 2.6 million Acres of cultivated land along with the approximately 2.5 billion of US dollars of crop loss (Xinhua 2010: 1).

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Figure 2.3: Frequency of Natural Disasters in Pakistan during 1954 and 2004 Source: Pakistan Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Council (SUPARCO) Drought is also well known in Pakistan, being related to the duration of reduced water supplies for crop growth.

It can last for some months or expand over years; because of only brief rainfall during the monsoon season2 and reduced snowfall on the mountains in winter, the water supply for land becomes insufficient. Pakistan experienced two droughts in 1999and 2000-2001 (Haider 2006: 16).

During these droughts, Baluchistan was worst affected at ninety two percent, Sindh experienced drought at sixty five percent, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, previously known as NorthWest Frontier Province (NWFP), was ranked third at forty two percent, and Punjab had the Rainy season starts from July and ends in September normally.

minimum of twenty one percent loss (ibid: 18). There was a loss of three million lives and 7.2 million livestock with hundreds of people and animals going missing. One of the most important drawbacks of this drought was the migration of local populations; they left their home land in search of food and jobs after losing their livelihoods on agricultural farms. They moved to the cities, which disturbed the traditional agricultural system and land-use pattern and caused permanent loss, even after the drought period was over. This caused land degradation as desertification in most of Pakistan (National Conservation Strategy Resource Center (NCSRC) 2007).

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Direct causes: By using an untenable and inappropriate method of land cultivation, problems of land degradation have increased.

• Overgrazing: Livestock is one of the important industries of Pakistan, and according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2008-09 the livestock economy covers 11.3 percent of GDP from this sector. The number of livestock is increasing with the growth of this sector and has doubled since 1976. Pakistan has classified its one third of the agricultural land area as rangeland, but with the growth of the sector, this is not enough for the growing number of animals. Overgrazing is the most common problem in most of the rangeland of Pakistan, and the overall productivity of these areas is reduced, as some areas have lost their productivity completely, and some have only twenty to thirty percent of their production capacity (NCSRC 2007) because of soil erosion through wind and water and the removal of vegetation.

• Extraction of water: Underground water is removed for various uses by humans. This excess removal causes shortages in the underground water availability for agricultural purposes and leads to the salinity. Pakistan has one of the World’s largest gravity irrigation systems based on the principles of flooding. Management at both ends, viz., at the farm level and at the irrigation management level, is extremely poor. This causes dire effects on agricultural output in the form of agricultural decreases caused by salinity, sodicity, and waterlogging.

Human intervention such as the erection of barriers in natural drainage systems through construction, improper alignments, and poor maintenance of the irrigation channels are the main cause of land degradation. About eleven million hectares of arable land in Pakistan are affected by waterlogging, and three million hectares are affected by salinity and sodicity (NCSRC 2007). In Pakistan, twenty six percent of the irrigated land are affected by soil salinity (Ghassemi et al. 1995, Faisal and Ismail 2010).





• Use of pesticides and fertilizers: Pakistan is a populous country and needs to grow more crops to meet the demand of food for the growing population. The country heavily depends on its agricultural sector, and the contribution of this sector to GDP is approximately twenty two percent. Pakistan needs to produce a greater output of cereals, especially wheat, to fulfill the need for food by its fast-growing population (NCSRC 2007). To achieve increased output from their farms, most farmers use pesticides and fertilizers, but this creates benefits only for a short period of time and a subsequent loss in the form of land degradation (FAO 2004, NCSRC 2007). This degradation causes water pollution and loss of important nutrients. It may also cause the loss of the local and traditional agricultural systems, together with the reduction of some highly valued crop yields (NCSRC 2007), e.g. production of Basmati Rice has reduced because of land degradation.

• Deforestation: Pakistan is losing its forest cover, at the rate of five percent per annum, for the household consumption of fuel wood for cooking and heating. A total 5.2 percent of its area is covered with forest, and about 3.1 percent is the calculated loss for the biomass per year, which is about 3 times more than that in other southern Asian counties. Because of this excessive rate of deforestation, soil erosion is much more intense in these areas, and the land is less able to absorb rainfall, which thus removes the upper soil cover and causes desertification (NCSRC 2007).

Economic and social conditions:

• Population Pressure: Pakistan is number six in top ten most populous countries with a population of 176,242,949 (World Fact Book 2009). The total land mass of the country is 796095 km2. The population of Pakistan is growing rapidly, and 153 million people live in close association with agriculture. Increases in the population reveal that this number will increase up to 217 million at the end of 2020 and double within the next 32 years. Such a huge increment in population decreases the per capita share of land and share in water (NCSRC 2007).

• Poverty: Presently available information indicates that most of the existing agricultural land in developing nations is lost for agriculture because of land degradation and abandonment, despite the land being potentially productive and reclaimable (Barbier 1997: 891). The main reason for its non-productivity has little interest for the rural population or they are unable to invest long-term in the land because they have limited access to capital and income opportunities (ibid).

In Pakistan most of the people are poor and depend on land for their survival. According to the UN interagency assessment, the rural population of Pakistan is currently worse off than it was in 1990. Food expenditure of rural people has increased by ten percent and overall expenditure are by four percent, whereas more than forty two percent of households have reported that they have received no increment in their income for the last two years.

Forty five percent of the population reports that their real income has fallen, and this causes more insecurity with regard to food (Economic Survey of Pakistan 2008-09). In this hand to mouth situation, they survive on small land holdings and have no other source of income, meaning that they cannot manage their lands in a better way.

• Institutional setup: Although the low income level of a nation is a key feature in the misuse of natural resources, once the population becomes socially vulnerable, then a more complex situation arises (Asian Development Bank 2002: 15). “Vulnerability, in a broad and more encompassing sense, arises also from a social powerlessness, political disfranchisement and ill-functioning and discretionary institution, and it is important to understand these factors as being among the primary causes of persistence of vulnerability faced by the poor” (Asian Development Bank 2002: 15).

One major reason of social vulnerability is the failure of state institutions to provide law and order for the protection of resources to the people (Asian development Bank 2002: 15).

In Pakistan, most of the people have problems with existing institutions as they are not particularly supportive of them (Khan 2006: 3). Niazi (2003: 288) has discussed the institutional setup for land distribution in Pakistan and described improper land distribution as being the main cause of land degradation. In his study, Niazi has tried to demonstrate that large land holders affect the productivity of the agriculture sector by mismanagement and ignorant behavior toward the best land.

• Non-agricultural land-use change: Land degradation is a sever problem in South Asia, where problems vary according to land-use practices (Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED) 2003). In case of Pakistan, industrial development in the district of Faisalabad has caused the degradation in agricultural land for the cotton crop in the surrounding areas. Chemical used in the textile industry has caused water pollution (Surface Water Industrial and Municipal Pollution in Punjab (SWIMPP) 2008). Similarly, in another district near Lahore, named as Kasoor, the chemicals used in leather manufacture contaminate the water and negatively affects the quality of life and agriculture in the area. According to a report on the industrial and municipal pollution of the surface water in Punjab, the major industries are the main polluters of the irrigation and drainage systems. Industrial effluents vary widely in composition and often contain toxic materials, thus posing serious problems for human health and for plant, animal, and aquatic life.

• Increasing population in the country is creating many problems for humanity. The growth rate of the population is 1.87 percent per annum (Economic Survey of Pakistan 2008-09), which is among the highest in the region, posing a great challenge for planners. According to SWIMPP (2008), pollution from the municipalities is much higher than that from industry. The waste from households contains some trace plant nutrients, for instance, toxic metals such as Ni, Cu, Zn, and Fe, which are the main cause of the contamination of agricultural land. This pollution problem started with rapid human and economic development, with an unsustainable use of resources. Development in the form of housing and increased access to the surrounding land causes degradation via soil erosion due to deposition of household waste.

2.6 Summary and Conclusions



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