AGRICULTURE NEWS

CALL FOR WATER PRICING FOR AGRICULTURE SECTOR

After surpassing the slot of water-stressed country, Pakistan is feared to touch the water scarcity barrier due to fast melting glaciers, drying rivers, depleting groundwater resources and above all, poor water management and pricing. Massive wastage in the agriculture sector, commercial and domestic use as well as lack of storage capacity coupled with impacts of climate change with abnormal weather patterns would further aggravate the situation in coming years. The expert intelligentsia meticulously monitoring the water situation and research has rolled out workable solutions in the limited resources available to cope with this challenge and circumvent a major crisis. “The situation is worrisome. The time has come for prudent use of water as well as ensuring 100% water metering in the country,” remarked Chairman Pakistan Council of Research on Water Resources (PCRWR) Dr. Muhammad Ashraf. Sharing his insights on the water crisis in the country, Dr Ashraf said, “water metering in the urban sector, water pricing policy, groundwater regulatory framework, and crop ecological zones as per the water availability is imperative.“ He said that the country’s growing water scarcity and inadequate storage capacity will be pushing Pakistan to touch the water scarcity level by 2025. “If the water resources remain the same and the population continues to rise at the same place, we will be in trouble within the next few years.” The system efficiency of the country’s existing water reservoirs is less than 40 per cent against the overall available storage capacity. The country dumps almost 100 million acre-feet (MAF) of floodwater into the Arabian Ocean annually. “The low water tariff, absence of groundwater regulatory framework and lack of crop zoning left the meagre water resources at the disposal of less informed and imprudent agricultural practices of the farmers,” Dr Ashraf said. Interestingly, the unique terrain of the country unveils matchless opportunities having 18 MAF hill torrent water potential that could be conserved and used for irrigation to household purposes, the PCRWR chairman said. Pakistan is the country that bears the largest aquifer (groundwater) reservoirs that are also being pulled out at an extreme pace. “What we need, is the implementation of national water policy and climate change policy in letter and spirit as well as result-oriented interventions to set our direction right,” Dr Ashraf said. “Lack of knowledge on irrigation practices also causes lots of water wastage. Therefore, we need to improve governance and promote the use of technology and better sowing practices.” After Ravi, Satluj, Chenab and Jehlum, the cradle of thousands of centuries-old Indus River system is also dying and if timely actions are not ensured, impending water scarcity may lead to food insecurity. In this situation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Economic Growth and Agriculture Expert Muhammad Nawaz has recommended a holistic approach with the involvement of all stakeholders to counter this challenge. “Water governance involves all stakeholders for enhancing management and judicious use of water,” Nawaz said.