The world is not the same as it used to be. Now it’s changing faster than we expected. This change has made us witness to changing climatic patterns. If we narrow our scope from global to Pakistan one can conclude that extreme weather conditions, frequent floods, changed patterns of monsoon cycle, annihilation of glaciers with alarming rate, exhausting water resources etc. are some of the pixels of the picture. However bigger problem is waiting for us in coming future if we don’t brace ourselves.
Rivers, ground water and rains constitute water reserves for Pakistan. Being a “traditional” agricultural country, where “traditional” methods are still employed; major portion of water tunnels into irrigation. But as being said before, decreasing water levels pose imminent threat to our agriculture, which in result would negatively affect our food security. Pakistan is among those countries which are water-stressed. Our water availability per capita has plunged from 5000 to 1000 cubic meters within six decades, which is unfortunately comparable to sub-Saharan countries. According to statistics, Pakistan will be home to approximate 250 million people by 2025. Adding this projected population growth rate in our production equation totally disturbs the balance of agricultural yield with its consumers. Therefore we should welcome scientific methods to improve yield and conserve which we can.
Although we have the one of the best irrigation systems in the world but things remain at top when molded with the changing circumstances. An icing on cake is that like most of the other sectors, our agriculture sector is entangled in cobweb of illiteracy and incompetency of policy makers. Our farmers don’t even have access to basic education, let alone advanced technology which we need nowadays. Due to these reasons, ‘surface (Flood ) irrigation system’ is being employed which not only wastes water in form of evaporation, uneven water distribution over the field and leakage due to non-localized action, but also reduces the yield due to arbitrary amount of water supplied to the crops. However this can be avoided given that we leave conventional methods and adopt innovative methods such as drip irrigation system, sprinkler system etc. These systems are augmented with intelligent controllers which help in optimizing the water-flow for crops. Research shows that adopting these technologies can reduce water wastage up to 30%. Take an example of California which has been hit by drought but precision irrigation technologies are helping it in curbing this issue. CDWR (California department of water resource) is extensively using satellite image to guide the growers in adjusting their irrigation as per requirement by crops, which helped in conservation of 33% water.
I strongly believe that it’s the high time we take proactive actions to save our agriculture. And precision irrigation is one the best options. Yes!! It is bit expensive but not more than life.