Thenews: Global climate change is posing serious threats to agrarian countries despite the facts that majority of them are not the major contributor in global warming. However, they are facing decline in agricultural productivity and water resources.
Speakers, during presentations in a seminar to the Agricultural Journalists Association (AJA), said the climate change cannot be avoided totally, but its effects can be mitigated through developing high temperature-tolerant, climate-resilient, climate-smart and genetically modified crops and constructing mega water reservoirs.
The seminar titled ‘Effects of climate change on agriculture, water resources and land and its acclimatisation in Pakistan’ was jointly organised by scientists from University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (UAF), AJA, and Monsanto Pakistan.
They said Pakistan is one of those countries, which are facing climate change issues. The climate change has visible signs in Pakistan, which include hotter summers, early cold spell, monsoon irregularity with untimely rainfall, increased rainfall over short period causing water logging, increased frequency and intensity of floods – especially recent floods, which destroyed livelihoods in Punjab and Sindh districts – very little rainfall in dry period, crop failure due to drought and salinity intrusion along the coastal region.
The presentations were given by Prof Ashfaq Ahmad Chattha, in-charge climate change cell UAF, Dr Arshad Ahmad Khan, Dr Zahir Ahmad Zahir, Monsanto Pakistan Country Lead Aamir Mahmood Mirza while AJA President Almas Ahmad Khan chaired the sessions.
In his presentation, Prof. Ashfaq Ahmad Chattha mentioned that not only carbon dioxide level but temperature was also rising due to climate change, which increases water requirement for the crops and in case of water non-availability results in loss of production. He believed with one centigrade rise in temperature, in case of wheat, might result in loss of 1.2 million tons of annual production.
To reduce of the climate change, he said there were two keyways to mitigate the impact on agriculture and water sectors, namely mitigation and adaptation. “Increase in temperature, CO2 emission or deforestation cannot be stopped but we can adapt to new technologies and methods to increase agri production,” he said. There is need to redefine agro-ecological zones due to climate change, he added.
Giving his suggestions, he stressed the need for developing varieties (idealistic plants) from climate change perspective and introduction of new crops using conventional as well as mutation breeding through biotechnology and genetic engineering.
Dr Arshad Ahmad Khan in his presentation on impact of climate change on water resources said that Pakistan ranks 4th in the world with respect to irrigated area (about 7pc). He said severe effects of climate change on water resources could be seen in shape of changes in precipitation, drastic increasing trends in temperature, hazardous alteration in period of winter and summer, harmful rising in the sea level and depletion of groundwater.
He called for implementation of climate change policy in Pakistan, organising climate change monitoring and impact assessment activities on scientific basis by filling the observational gaps over low elevation plains and glaciers zones and construction of water reservoirs in the upper catchments of the Indus.
He strongly advocated construction of Kalabagh Dam, terming it most suitable downstream dam for the country. He also called for modern efficient irrigation methods such as sprinkle, drip and trickle irrigation.
Aamir Mahmood Mirza informing about the activities of the industry said that Monsanto was working with the objective of improving lives so as to put minimum pressure on available resources and meet the changing climate globally. He said Monsanto invests $1.5 billion per annum in research and development activities to double the yield of cotton, corn and soy by 2030.
He said genetically modified or biotech crops’ opposition in Europe is also subsiding as relevant scientific data is convincing more and more anti-biotech campaigners there to admit the fact that agricultural biotechnology is safe and should be fully deployed in order to ensure sufficient food for growing population.
Aamir informed world-known British writer and environmentalist Mark Lynas, who had helped spur the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, has confessed that he was completely wrong to oppose genetically modified organisms.
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