Water scarcity leads to Food insecurity

“Global Warming is not a prediction, it is happening”

Climate change is a global phenomenon, but their impacts are more pronounced in South Asia during the past few decades, which challenges food security in this region.

Thus, Pakistan facing frequent climate change induced annual drought and floods. Once, Pakistan known a water surplus country and now a water deficient country. The rain fall is neither sufficient, nor regular, to meet the growing needs of water. Yet we are wasting water on daily bases.

The surface water resources in Pakistan mainly the Indus River and its tributaries, which bring is about 138 million acre feet of water annually. The Indus River alone provide 65% of the total river flows.

The flow during the Kharif is 84% and during Rabi season is 16% in Pakistan.

Pakistan always face food shortage due to water scarcity and 47% population is food insecure. The production of food is greatly dependent on irrigation. So, Pakistan required new strategies to enhance water use efficiency, maintain and improve the quality and sustainability of resources base at Basin and water shed level. Pakistan need to invest soon in increasing rain water harvesting by increasing storage capacity of water.

Long term strategies may include the construction of large storage dams, better flood and drought forecasting mechanisms and resolving water distribution problems in all over Pakistan.

Short term strategies to save water are careful use of water in our daily use, campaigns and advocacy to ensure lesser water wastage, people in urban areas are wasting a lot of water in car wash, street cleaning, and other recreational activities these need to stop. Because water we waste in urban areas are causing a lot of trouble for the people in rural areas and causing damage to our agriculture. We are killing the rights of the people who are now deprived of the water because of our wastage of water.

RURAL WOMEN: THEIR PARTICIPATION AND EFFORTS IN AGRICULTURE

Whenever we talk about the participation and efforts of village women in agriculture we cannot deny the fact based on anthropological studies that women were the first to plant gardens of Cereals. In ancient societies the task of planting and farming was the job of women whereas men were involved in hunting animals. So, in other words women are the real founders of agriculture. Even today women are the main producers and the main source of total agriculture in the world.

In Pakistan women are estimated to constitute 42% of the total family labor. In other countries like Egypt, Turkey, Sudan, Morocco and Lebanon women comprised 50.7%, 55.3%, 34.7%, 53.2% and 40.7% of total paid and unpaid agriculture labor respectively. In developing countries, two-third of the women labor force is engaged in agricultural labor e.g. in countries like Zimbabwe, Congo, Afghanistan and Kenya women provide 40-80% of the labor. If we see the percentage of active females working in agriculture globally, the ratio of women working globally in agriculture is 50% it exceeds to 61% in low income deficit countries and touches 79% in least developed countries. In-short, rural women are playing a vital role in agriculture production sector all over the world.

Females all over the world are not only involved in field works like sowing , rearing, transplanting and production but they are perform activities which supplements agriculture productivity e.g. food storage, threshing, grain cleaning, cottage industry and livestock etc. They are also engaged in providing cattle for plugging and poultry farm activities. Women are an equally important part of society as males. As a part of society women are playing part in reproductive, productive and community management activities.

Females all over the world are facing serious constraints in agriculture but Pakistani women have to face more difficult circumstances because of strict social, cultural, financial, legal and political factors applied to the gender discrimination. Women are facing preferential treatment inside and outside the boundary wall. As the women are involved in every corner of household work and they are also easing their partners by equally participating in their field works, this overloading of work adversely affects the women health and also affects the health of infants and young children. Almost all the rural women are illiterate because of conservative cultural codes and are unaware of agricultural techniques. All the agencies access only men to provide them knowledge related to farming, latest techniques and productivity enhancement resultantly women only get secondary knowledge. In underdeveloped countries women are deprived of the right of land ownership. Emerging trend of male migration to urban areas in search of jobs increased the responsibilities of village women, particularly the farm work. In brief women participation is considered low in country’s development not because of their

minimum participation but because their efforts are not accounted and recognized at national levels.

Particularly in Pakistan, despite of all these efforts and contributions made by women in agricultural productivity they are not even accolade at family level. Instead of crediting their efforts they are disgraced by their men and are made to feel little because of their ignorance and little knowledge. Women are usually censured at minor things and they remain dependent on their males for their whole lives. Men’s ego never accepts a women working better than him.

That’s why he uses his man power for letting her down. In order to increase the agricultural production we have to recognize the efforts of rural women at national levels. We have to give them sufficient rights so that they can work without any hurdles.

Firstly, an integrative system should be designed by Government of Pakistan in order to ease women in all agricultural sectors e.g. tax reforms, financial services , land reforms etc.

Secondly, gender-segregated data should be collected and considered by policy makers. In addition to this, women should be taught about the use of latest agricultural tools and techniques. Moreover, women should be made familiar with the new methods of food preservation and processing.

Anyhow, we should celebrate the International Day of Rural Women on national levels and acclaim and appreciate the rural women efforts publically. We should stand for their rights and take steps to make their lives unruffled.

The perfect women, you can see is the working women, one who uses her hands, and her head and her heart for the good of others. (Thomas Hardy)

Food security and threats

Ever growing population and faltering economy, along with, the disastrous changes being witnessed in the climate of the country has severely threatened the food security of the state. Pakistan, being the agricultural country, has highly depended on the wheat, rice and other food articles. Despite the high growth rate in these areas, unfair distribution and hoarding of the grain as well as unpredictable high prices make it hard for the poor and unemployed people to buy for diet. Concurrently, for the food security, economic and social strength is essential to maintain sufficient food availability because lower economic growth results in the failure of buying power of the people. Scary Statistics are shown by the Global Report on the Food Crises 2017 in which Pakistan is among those top three south Asian countries who are most poverty stricken in the world i.e. Bangladesh and India. It shows that 5o million child’s, under age 5 have not weight enough to meet height. Agricultures sector that was most progressing in the 2000s had plummeted to negative growth last year and this year, it has growth rate of 2.01%. with this growth rate and declining the stock exchange reserves, poverty would rise to unprecedented scale and would further deteriorate the food situation.

Horrible situation came to front in the supreme court hearing in which the plight of the children of the Thar was noticed. Unavailability of the food caused death of hundreds of the children, at the same, no long-term initiative has been taken to ensure the food security there that is the fundamental right as per law. Concurrently, where global population is expected to be doubled till 2050, situation is far worse for the countries like us with high population growth rate.  Provision of the safe food to millions of people in the face of impending threats of global warming, melting of glaciers, shrinking agricultural lands and declining exports pose high risk to the massive population. According to the recent estimates, cultivated agriculture land has declined from 0.45% in 1996 to 0.15% in 2018. Deficiency of the food is also due to the energy crises that posed multidimensional problems i.e. unemployment, shut down of the business, cut down in exports, decrease foreign reserves and slow agricultural growth. With these multifaceted issues, food threats become more illuminant and hazardous.

Globally, incentives are taken to use more technology and manpower to raise up growth of the food items in proportion with the rising population. Even in the country like us, lavish use of the meat, milk, butter and other articles of food linked with rural life have reduced due to massive urbanization and lack of incentive on the part of the government. This has generated need of the artificial industry to meet the demand of the meat, milk, butter and fast food. Unplanned urbanization has resulted in the reduction of the cultivated lands, cities have absorbed massive chunks of the land leaving huge unemployment.  In the same way, unemployment is linked with the domestic agricultural and industrial growth that is sluggish in our country. If any country has robust growing economy, their population always have had enough earnings to buy food, but, if economy is already faltering, lack of resources on the part of people would make their survival difficult.

The government should boost economic growth by taking much needed steps of giving incentives to the industrial and agricultural sector that would in return, create jobs for the people. With the rewarding jobs, threats of the food security can be tackled. Moreover, climate change is endangering the existence of the agricultural sector in our country. Immediate measures are required to be implemented in controlling the climate change in collaboration with other neighboring countries in order to maintain reasonable temperature to avert the threats of ice melting. Thus, food security and economic growth interact with each other and go hand in hand.

Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture and Mitigation Strategies

Climate change is manifested in a range of short-term weather events and long-term climatic trends that are deeply affecting agricultural systems, especially the rain-fed and subsistence ones. The most common changes being witnessed are unreliable rainfall periods (delayed commencement or early cessation of rains), erratic rains, leading to extended dry spells punctuated by intermittent rainfall events,  heavier-than-usual rainfall events and above-average air and soil temperatures.

Crops are dependent on temperature, light, moisture and COto produce grains and other crop products to satisfy the basic human needs. Climate change is very likely to affect food security at the global, regional, and local level. Climate change can disrupt food availability, reduce access to food, and affect food quality. Increases in temperature, changes in precipitation patterns, changes in extreme weather events, and reductions in water availability may all result in reduced agricultural productivity.

Higher CO2 levels can affect crop yields. Some laboratory experiments suggest that elevated CO2 levels can increase plant growth.  Though rising CO2 can stimulate plant growth, it also reduces the nutritional value of most food crops. More temperature both high and low and precipitation can prevent crops from growing. Extreme events, especially floods and droughts, can harm crops and reduce yields. These are a source of rising concentration of greenhouse gases which in turn are the major reasons of global warming and other changes in climate The climate change is characterized by rising temperature, erratic and lower rainfall declined  frequency  but  with  greater intensity,  changing  seasons,  and  occurrence of  extreme  events floods  and  droughts.

Resource poor farmers are greatly affected by these changes that result in lower or failed agricultural production, higher incidence of pests and diseases, and an overall reduction in the efficiency and productivity of farming systems. There is an urgent need to adapt traditional agricultural systems to these changes in order to make them more resilient to climatic shocks and stresses. Broader actions are also needed to mitigate climate change itself in other words to actually reduce the magnitude or rate of climate change.

Climate Smart Agriculture may be a viable mitigation tool that includes both new and old agricultural practices that are considered effective in helping farmers adapt to climate change and among some groups to mitigate climate change.  Apart from this  varieties which  are  tolerant  to  high  temperature  and  drought   should  be developed  so  that  losses  could  be avoided.  The  temperature  component may  shorten  the  growth  periods; therefore  the  cultivating time  should be  adjusted  accordingly.