Saturday, June 1, 2019

Drip Irrigation: Can Pakistan Make its Deserts Bloom?

Large tracts of desert in Cholistan, Kharan and Thar land lay barren in Pakistan today. Can some parts of these deserts be made to bloom given the worsening water crisis in the country with per capita water availability approaching 900 cubic meters? How does Pakistan improve long term food security for its growing population? The answer to both lies in efficient water management through effective drip irrigation.

Drip Irrigation 

What is Drip Irrigation:

Drip irrigation is a micro-irrigation system using tubing that saves water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly into the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface. It puts water directly into the roots and minimizes evaporation.

Water mixed with fertilizer is carried out through tubes which release a small amounts of water per minute directly to the roots of each plant. Precision watering cuts evaporation, run off, and waste.

More Crop Per Drop:

Agriculture uses over 90% of all available fresh water in Pakistan. "More crop per drop" program focuses on improving water use efficiency by promoting drip and sprinkler irrigation in agriculture in Pakistan.

The Punjab government started this effort with the World Bank with $250 million investment.  The World Bank is now providing additional $130 million financing for the Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement Program Phase-I.

The project is the Punjab Government's initiative called High-Efficiency Irrigation Systems (HEIS) to more than doubles the efficiency of water use. Under the project, drip irrigation systems have been installed on about 26,000 acres, and 5,000 laser leveling units have been provided. The additional financing will ensure completion of 120,000 acres with ponds in saline areas and for rainwater harvesting, and filtration systems for drinking water where possible, according to the World Bank.

Cost of Drip Irrigation System:

Most crops are not irrigated with the drip method due to higher costs. In the United States and Spain, where the technology is used most, it comprises 6.75 and 2.75 percent of the total irrigated area, respectively, according to the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage. Farmers are offered subsidies to encourage the use of drip irrigation in most countries as a way of conserving precious water.

Subsidies in Punjab, Pakistan:

Punjab provincial government is subsidizing up to 60% of the cost of installing new drip irrigation systems, according to Business Recorder newspaper.  Director General Agriculture (Water Management) Malik Muhammad Akram said that latest irrigation techniques ensure availability of water and fertilizer in time to the plants and it also ensure uniform supply of these two major ingredients to all the plants in a field. It helps attaining more per acre yield with minimum agricultural inputs, he added, according to the paper.

There's at least one example of public-private partnership to promote drip irrigation in Sheikhupura near Lahore. The installation has been carried out by Nestlé Pakistan in collaboration with the Government of Punjab, covering 40% and 60% of the farmer’s cost respectively. The Agricultural Efficiency Project was initiated in the year 2017 and has so far covered 109 acres of land in 2018 with an estimated 280 million liters of water saved, according to a Nestle press release.

Using drip irrigation, farmers can save up to 95% of water and reduce fertilizer use, compared to surface irrigation, according to Malik Mohammad Akram. In flood irrigation – the traditional method of agriculture in the region – a farmer uses 412,000 liters per acre, while using drip irrigation the same land can be irrigated with just 232,000 liters of water, he explained to Zofeen Ibrahim of The Third Pole that covers Asia's water crisis.

Success Stories:

Writing for The Third Pole,  Zofeen Ebrahim has cited a couple of success stories of farmers receiving Punjab government's drip irrigation subsidies: The stories of ex IT Engineer Hasan Abdullah and Infiniti Agro and Livestock Farm.

Hasan Abdulla is has planted an orchard on his 40-acre plot in Cholistan Desert. He has orange, lemon olive trees which are now fruiting three years after planting. He is among the first farmers experimenting with drip irrigation.While Abdullah was saving water, the cost of diesel for running water pump was proving astronomical. It would have been difficult for Abdullah to continue farming with drip irrigation had the government not announced an 80% subsidy on solar power plants for farmers in 2018. He promptly took it up.

Asif Riaz Taj, who manages Infiniti Agro and Livestock Farm in Bahawalpur, heard of Abdulla's drip irrigation project and paid him a visit. He like it and decided to follow the example.  Now in their fourth year, the Infiniti orchards have started fruiting over 70 acres. But it will not be before its sixth year, Taj said, that they will “break even”. The drip irrigation and solar plant was installed at a cost of PKR 25 million (USD 174,000), and the monthly running cost of this farm is almost PKR 4 million (USD 28,000).

Summary:

Pakistan faces a severe water crisis that threatens the nation's long term food security.  The country needs to expand area under cultivation while efficiently managing its precious water resources. It needs to make parts of its deserts bloom. The best way to do it efficient water management through effective drip irrigation. Such projects are expensive to implement. The Punjab government is offering up to 60% subsidy to farmers to encourage wider use of drip irrigation.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan Water Crisis: Facts and Myths 

Groundwater Depletion in Pakistan

Water Scarce Pakistan

Cycles of Drought and Floods in Pakistan

Pakistan to Build Massive Dams

Dust Bowl in Thar Desert Region

Dasht River in Balochistan



15 comments:

Abid F. said...

I saw drip irrigation and white plastic sheets covering the veggie fields around Bahawalpur several years ago. At each subsequent visit I have seen more and more of this in that area.

I remember this whole area used to be a vast desert when I got married in the early 70’s. The whole area has been transformed into a very fertile land.

Rashid A. said...

Drip Irrigation is hot subject in Pakistan.

In a meeting last week with Pakistan Commercial Counsel, Pakistan is showing more interest in drip irrigation related technology transfer from US to Pakistan, particularly in the manufacturing side.

One of the issues that has stymied water conservation and water efficiency is the almost free water supplied from Irrigation canals. The cost of delivering water to the farm is high, but the price paid by farmers is nominal.

Just like anything else, if something is free, the incentive to save is very weak.

Riaz Haq said...

Drip Irrigation promises massive potential to save water
To Press Releases listFeb 4, 2019
Nestlé Waters Senior Vice President and Head of Technical, Peter Hagmann, inaugurated a site near Sheikhupura under Nestlé Pakistan’s Agricultural Efficiency Project. The project has the potential to help save 54 million liters of water annually.

https://www.nestle.pk/media/pressreleases/drip-irrigation

It is part of the company’s ‘Caring for Water’ initiative which undertakes collective approach to help address the water issue.

The water saving will be made possible by the installation of drip irrigation as opposed to flood irrigation which is the traditional way of irrigating fields in Pakistan. All over the world, around 70% of water is used in agriculture sector. In Pakistan, that percentage stands at 90%, with 50% wastage due to poor irrigation methods. In order to save water in agriculture and improve productivity, Nestlé Pakistan has fostered partnerships with the government and farmers to promote drip irrigation.

The installation has been carried out by Nestlé Pakistan in collaboration with the Government of Punjab, covering 40% and 60% of the farmer’s cost respectively. The Agricultural Efficiency Project was initiated in the year 2017 and has so far covered 109 acres of land in 2018 with an estimated 280 million litres of water saved.

At the inauguration ceremony, Peter Hagmann said, “Businesses in Pakistan need to realize the essence of being water conscious not only because of their survival but for the overall wellbeing of global ecosystems and economies. Nestlé Pakistan realizes the significance of taking a collective approach and working beyond the factory gates. With partners such as farmers, government, communities, academia and civil society, Nestlé Pakistan is taking collective actions to promote responsible use of water.”

Khurram Zia, Country Business Manager, Nestlé Waters, while sharing his views said, “The Agricultural Efficiency Project has massive potential of saving water by taking a step out of conventional farming. Water is a shared resource requiring every stakeholder’s ownership and participation to help tackle the issue. Nestlé’s vision towards water efficiency is aligned with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6 and 12: clean water and sanitation, responsible consumption and production. Therefore, the company is devoted towards helping address the issue by encouraging all the stakeholders to be mindful of the utilization of water resources.”

Ahmad R said...

In absence of an effective co-op model, no farmers association able to raise a substantial holding enough to run on economy of scales - such subsidies will only benefit the rich landed gentry, with substantial land holding

Akbar S said...

Dear Riaz sahib 1.Pak uses 115 maf to produce 60 B$ agri prod. About 500 $/AF. 2.what is cost of water $100/AF. 3.What is world trend. 4. Since water consumption is for land area cultivated, why would there be shortage of water if cultivated area is not increasing.

Riaz Haq said...


Akbar: " why would there be shortage of water if cultivated area is not increasing"


Pakistan is adding area under cultivation to produce more food for its growing #population.

In fact, Pakistan is among fastest greening countries but it needs to better utilize #water in agriculture

http://www.riazhaq.com/2019/02/satellite-image-shows-pakistan-among.html

Shakib, KP said...

Pakistan is "greening", but unlike China and India it is due to rapid clearance of forests and replanting them with cash crops with intensive use of freshwater use - per the Boston University Study published in February 2019.

FOREST AREA 1990-2016 PER CENT OF TOTAL LAND AREA
*China's forest area grew from 16.738 to 22.354.
*India's forest area grew from 21.505 to 23.833.
*Pakistan forest area DECLINED from 3.278 to 1.854.

When forests decline, erosion of top soil increases and risk of flooding and runoff multiplies. The end result is fresh groundwater is not replenished.

Pakistan has to stop clearing it's forests, but current and past policies have become ineffectual.

Riaz Haq said...

RAINFALL last year and this monsoon has filled Darawat Dam to a level where water flows could be released for irrigating the command area spread over 25,000 acres.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1350114


Since this command area is not connected with off-taking canal of the dam through watercourses, an ad-hoc arrangement has been made to ensure water supply at least to small farmers to enable them cultivate winter and summer crops. Farmers are using pipes to lift water downstream of the dam.

The dam, a federally funded project, was completed in August 2014 by a Chinese company. Its construction started during the previous government’s tenure in January 2010. It is located some 135 kilometres north-east of Karachi and 70km west of Hyderabad, and is built on Nai Baran, a hill torrent in Jamshoro district.

Spread over 10,500 acres, the dam’s reservoir area upstream lies in Jamshoro district with a storage capacity of 121,600 acre-feet.

At present, 33,000 acre-feet of water is available in the reservoir. The level, which was 50,800 acre-feet in August 2016, has dropped after flows were ensured for cultivation of onion and wheat crops during the last year. Presently, farmers are getting water for cotton and vegetable sowing.

Zahid Sheikh, superintending engineer at the Sindh irrigation department, says a study on the topography of the dam’s command area is under way to assess which kind of high efficiency system — sprinkler or drip — suits this rain-fed area considering the fact how water travels in the hilly terrain.

The irrigation department does not seem to take control of the dam even by early next year as it lacks expertise, officials say

While the Sindh government has to build an irrigation system, the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) is also in the process of bidding two pilot projects on 10 acres each to be connected with drip and sprinkler systems on farmers’ land to see results of per-acre productivity.

The dam’s project director, Iqbal Sheikh, says bidding is already under way for this purpose but it is not part of the whole project which stands completed. The pilot projects would be completed in one and a half years and would be monitored by Wapda.

The project is reported have hit by cost overruns, and Wapda is seeking a second revision of its PC-I, a project document which covers almost all aspects of the project.

The first revision of the PC-I was approved at Rs9.3 billion by the federal government after it was conceived at Rs3.175bn in September 2009. PC-I would now be revised at Rs11.67bn by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council.

An amount of Rs6.37 billion has been paid to the dam’s Chinese contractor whose liabilities have now accumulated. Sources say the federal government has earmarked Rs800m for the project under the current fiscal year’s Public Sector Development Programme.

Wapda has set up 73 outlets with a main line canal and three distributaries that can irrigate 25,000 acres on the right and left banks of the canal that has a designed discharge of 156 cubic feet per second (cusecs) and stretches over nearly 46km.

The entire command area is to be connected with watercourses to be built by the irrigation department. Smallholders say that with the current storage they are able to grow wheat and onion since October 2016.

Dasrat Kumar, a farmer of the area, says that presently more than 1,500 acres of land is being cultivated and the farmers’ produce finds its way to Karachi, mostly through the middleman as farmers get payment in advance to buy inputs.

Another elderly farmer, Noor Ahmed, says that the “rate of evaporation and water losses remains very high as our land in this hilly tract remains dry most of the year”.

Riaz Haq said...

4.557 Million Acre Feet of #Water Storage Capacity Added In #Pakistan in Last 10 Years. 2.880 MAF in #Mangla Raising, 0.892 MAF Gomal Zam, 0.053 MAF Satpara, 0.089 MAF Darawat, 0.152 MAF Mirani, 0.014 MAF Sabakzai, Other #Dams: 0.278 MAF.
https://www.urdupoint.com/en/pakistan/4557-maf-water-storage-capacity-added-in-las-623652.html#.XPSPL6jhPLE.twitter

The government is actively working for development of small, medium and large water storage reservoirs in the country and added 4.557 million acre feet (MAF) storage capacity during last 10 years.

Giving the details, officials sources told APP here on Friday, that some 2.880 MAF was added through Mangla Raising dam, 0.892 MAF Gomal Zam dam, 0.053 MAF Satpara dam, 0.089 MAF Darawat dam, 0.152 MAF Mirani dam and 0.014 MAF Sabakzai dams.

Similarly, 0.278 MAF water storage capacity has also been added by constructing various small dams during said period, they said.

The projects included 0.087 MAF ISSO Barriers Sindh, 0.014 MAF Palai, Kundal, KP, 0.021 MAF 20 small dams, KP, 0.032 MAF reconstruction of Shadi Kaur dam, 0.039 MAF and 0.068 MAF 100 delay action dams (Balochistan) and 0.

068 MAF rehabilitation of Akra Kaur dam Balochistan.

They said the government has already acquired 85 per cent land for Diamer Basha dam which would store 6.4 MAF. A sum of Rs 2000 million has also been allocated for Mohmand dam which would store 0.676 MAF water.

The sources said a storage capacity of 4.965 MAF of existing reservoirs had been lost due to sedimentation. Studies showed that additional 0.75 MAF would be lost due to sedimentation by 2025, they said.

They said additional reservoirs were required for inter season and inter year transfer of water.

They said that per capita water availability in the Pakistan was 5,260 cubic meter per annum in 1951 which had been reduced to 908 cubic meters per annum in 2018 due to ever increasing trend of populations.

Riaz Haq said...


As water disappears, parched southern Pakistan farmers march north

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-water-protests/as-water-disappears-parched-southern-pakistan-farmers-march-north-idUSKCN1U31YM

As shopkeeper Ali Akbar went to open his store last week along the main street of Thatta, in Pakistan’s Sindh province, he found himself wading through a sea of people who had blocked the road, causing an enormous traffic jam.

It wasn’t a political rally – the normal cause of such crowds. It was people without water.

“They were demanding the government declare a water emergency and resolve their woes on a war footing,” Akbar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone call. “It was extremely hot, but they remained resolute.”

Over a week, the people had walked 140 km (85 miles) from the Indus delta region, desperate to find an answer to worsening water shortages and land losses to erosion in their home villages.

Zuhaib Ahmed Pirzada, a young environmental activist from Thatta, said an original 50 or so marchers from the area around Kharo Chan – where the delta meets the Arabian Sea - were joined by others as they marched north.

By the time the crowd reached Thatta, there were 1,500 marchers.

Tanzeela Qambrani, a legislator from Badin district, in southern Sindh province, said the region has seen the “slow death” of the delta for many years.

Water expert Simi Kamal, who works at the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund and started a foundation focused on water and food security, said the spread of large-scale irrigation along the Indus River is partially to blame for less water reaching the delta.

But she said “mismanagement” of water, including wasteful flood irrigation and failure to leave enough water in systems to support nature, played a far bigger role.

“Together these have been catastrophic for the environment as well as the local population,” she said, predicting that a shifting climate would only make the problem worse.

LOWER FLOW
The Indus is a water lifeline for over 200 million Pakistanis, about 50 million of them near the river’s end in Sindh, according to the U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water and other agencies.


A report by environmental and development group Lead Pakistan said that as demands on the Indus’ water grow, the delta is receiving less than a third of the water it needs.

The flow is also less than what it is due under a 1991 water sharing accord among Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, the report said.

Khalid Hyder Memon, a former irrigation department official in the Sindh provincial government, said he felt Punjab province, upstream, was “stealing” water that should be Sindh’s share.

He said repeated protests and requests over the last two years for a water audit by an independent body had not yet been acted on by the Indus River System Authority, which monitors water distribution and sharing.

“An audit would establish how much water there is in the system and how much is released to each province,” said Memon, who worked on irrigation issues for 37 years.



But Usman Tanveer, deputy commissioner of Thatta, said recent shortages of water in Sindh were in part the result of cool June temperatures in Gilgit-Baltistan’s Skardu district, with less snowmelt coming from the foothills of the Karakoram mountains.

“It takes between 17 to 25 days for the water from Skardu to reach us. The unprecedented and persistent low temperatures delayed snow melt and created havoc for us,” he explained.

Qambrani said the Sindh government needs to show “seriousness” in dealing with growing water threats as climate pressures become the new normal, and as sea level rise and less water and sediment flowing down the Indus erodes delta land.

Riaz Haq said...

#Thar on the #climatechange frontline in #Pakistan. As #crops fail, #livestock die, tribal communities that have survived for centuries are breaking apart. Technologies like #land terracing, #dripirrigation, mulching can save #water, preserve soil quality

https://www.ft.com/content/78bb819e-a822-11e9-b6ee-3cdf3174eb89


In the Thar Desert (in Pakistan), communities already face an existential threat: there is nowhere near enough food to go round. Hundreds of thousands of people in Tharparkar, more than half the district’s population, face acute food insecurity, meaning they experience hunger but can go entire days without eating anything. Some 400,000 children under five are acutely malnourished, according to the FAO. More than 500 children died from hunger-related causes last year.

As crops fail, and livestock wither and die, the communal nature of life that has bound people in the Thar Desert together for so long is breaking apart. Villagers can no longer afford to stay on their lands. Ebu says that “most healthy men” have had to migrate to cities or towns where they hope to find work as day-labourers. “When they return,” she says, “they only bring things for their own family.”

Others complain in similar terms. Bheel calls it a “drought in community”. Perhaps it is this — the sense of togetherness evaporating — that causes most unease. “We are constantly worried,” says Ebu. “We’re in a constant state of anxiety. It’s as if we are drowning.”

As with most slow-motion humanitarian crises, the issue is not that there are no solutions — but that they require political will, finance and attention. For dry-land communities like those of the Thar Desert, technologies such as land terracing, drip irrigation and mulching can save water and preserve soil quality, sustaining the livestock and crops on which people depend. Such steps would mean major financing as well as government and international support.

The broader need to meet Pakistan’s energy requirements is also not unattainable; billions of dollars of investment are pledged at climate conferences every year. Some of this money could and should be invested in developing countries like Pakistan, enabling them to shift their fossil fuel-powered growth models towards renewable energy alternatives. Overall, it is a massive project and, in relative terms, there is very little time. It’s hard to feel optimistic.

By 2050, Karachi will have a population of 24 million, and experience ‘deadly heatwaves’ of 49C on an annual basis

One evening, Bheel tells me several tales, from legend and personal experience, recalling djinns (ghosts) and deos (spirits) and the alarming feats of the goddess Aver Devi. “My grandmother’s ghost stories were the worst,” he says, “because they seemed so true.” Reality is beginning to attain something of these stories.

Late one night, with a guide, I visit a village in the desert. The moon and stars are bright enough to reveal our shadows on the sand. In the monochrome light, the landscape resembles a blackish sea. In silence, we come across some abandoned thatched huts; black shapes in the darkness.

We find other huts. Two figures emerge. A man says his eight brothers and their families have left this village. His is the last family left. It is a ghost village. Soon, because of climate change, places like these will be uninhabited, and the desert wind will be the only sound; a long, drawn-out gasp of what once was.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Agriculture Research Council with #Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company’s (SECMC) Thar Foundation in Tharparkar set to turn barren #Tharparkar #desert #green. It has huge reserves of #groundwater estimated at 80 billion cubic meters. #coal https://tribune.com.pk/story/1905021/1-parc-set-turn-barren-tharparkar-desert-green/

For the barren desert of Tharparkar, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) appears set to embark on an ambitious project of growing cash crops and fruit orchards. The council in this regard entered into an agreement on Wednesday with the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company’s (SECMC) Thar Foundation in Tharparkar.

Cultivating cash crops and fruit trees, modifying seeds and fodder, reducing salinity and developing multi-directional commercial value chains, that involve livestock, are the objectives. The two partners will also carry out an analysis and undertake pre-emptive remedy against land degradation caused by salinity.


PARC will also station supervisors on-ground who will be available to supervise designated bio-saline projects, which have been initiated by the foundation. The two organisations will also conduct a feasibility study on installing domestic biogas units modelled on the utilisation of animal waste as fuel.

PARC Chairperson Dr Yusuf Zafar said that their supreme objective was to eliminate drought in the region. He said that the council would replicate successful models in Tharparkar which were implemented by the Arid Zone Research Institute in the neighbouring Umerkot district.

Syed Murtaza Azhar Rizvi of Thar Foundation said that the desert was blessed with huge reserves of groundwater, which are estimated at around 80 billion cubic meters. The subsoil water, he added, can be pumped out to make Tharparkar district rich in agriculture.

For the project, the foundation is providing 20 acres of land for the execution of a pilot project. The provision of the required resources including water, seeds and saplings will also be the foundation’s onus.

Riaz Haq said...

#AkiraMiyawaki style forest by @SECMC_Thar
. The #MillionTree project seems to be taking shape with Neem, Kandi, Kekar etc. 80% of the 85,000 plants survived, many already 6 ft tall in just a year!

Tweet by Zofeen Ebrahim

Eng. Muhammad Imran said...

Dear All,

We have started manufacturing factory for Drip Irrigation pipe ( with inside dripper / 2L, 4L, 8L per hr). Very easy installation / farmer can do there self. We wish to support farmer / contractor for Green Pakistan. Can get lower cost from direct manufacturer.

Regards,

Eng. Muhammad Imran
www.mahar.com.pk
info@mahar.com.pk

Eng. Muhammad Imran said...

Dear All,

We have started manufacturing factory for Drip Irrigation pipe ( with inside dripper / 2L, 4L, 8L per hr). Very easy installation / farmer can do there self. We wish to support farmer / contractor for Green Pakistan. Can get lower cost from direct manufacturer.

Regards,

Eng. Muhammad Imran
www.mahar.com.pk
info@mahar.com.pk