Climate change and agriculture are interrelated on a global scale which means that changes in rainfall, temperature and wind patterns impact the agriculture which depends on specific climate conditions. The agriculture community in Pakistan, most of which comprises of farmers relying on old practices and traditional methods, is not aware of this change and its adverse impact over the course of next few years.
Suryia, a female farmer from District Vehari, already experienced some of these challenges. Her deceased husband left her a small piece of agricultural land, barely enough for her to make ends meet. If things weren’t already difficult, they were worsened by the unpredictability around her income that she now faces due to climate change. The recent increase in temperatures in early spring, when wheat and other winter crops are at reproductive stage of their life cycle, caused significant reduction in the grain yield in addition to adversely affecting the health of the crops.
Introduction of Modern Farming Techniques
To help Suriya, and thousands of other farmers like her, Plan International Pakistan introduced Permaculture, a farming technique that relies on renewable resources and a self-sustaining ecosystem that aims to counter the impact of climate change. Permaculture uses natural energy in the form of gravity to move the water around, reduces water loss through windbreaks and gathers and stores nutrients through earthworks and strip farming, thereby addressing the main issue of rain shortfall through better water management.
Suriya was one of the first few to be introduced to these modern farming initiatives which brought relief and promise.
I was provided with fruit plants, poultry, vegetable seeds and Vermicompost (organic fertilizer) and coupled with the new techniques provided by Plan International; it has turned around farming for me.
She further adds, "Earlier I would be worried all night, thinking about alternate income sources without having the means, skill or bandwidth to take up something new. But permaculture enabled me to grow and sustain organic vegetables, meat, eggs and fodder for livestock with increased yield as well as quality. I’d like to thank Plan International Pakistan for giving me access to this new technique which is reliable not only for me but also for future generations".
In view of the rapidly changing climate, affecting growth cycles of crops, committing to six-month crops that require a lot of input and care was not a viable option earlier. Plan International Pakistan also provided organic vegetables and crops which are available for the summer season and require less time and resources to grow.
While Permaculture addresses some of the immediate issues in the short term, it aims to create awareness and impart education on the latest and modern farming techniques in order to bring empowerment to the agricultural community for establishment of agriculture ecosystem which is sustainable and self-sufficient.