Thar starts producing fruit grown through bio-saline agriculture techniques
HYDERABAD: After the successful experiments of growing regular crops with the help of bio-saline agriculture techniques, the water-scarce region of Tharparkar has now produced apple ber.
The spokesman of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) informed here Friday that the company and its welfare arm Thar Foundation developed the orchard of apple ber under a pilot project.
According to him, the fruits have started growing ripe within one year of cultivation after Thar Foundation planted apple ber over an area of 10 acres in Thar Coal Block II of Islamkot, Tharparkar.
He told that the experiment was part of the bio-saline agriculture by utilizing underground water of third aquifer pumped out from a depth of approximately 200 meters.
“These Ber trees were provided water of up to 3500 ppm TDS under technical support provided by Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) where 120 trees were planted per acre,” he said.
“Within one year, these plants have started yielding fruits and every tree has yielded average 5 to 7 kilograms of apples,” he added.
The 120 trees on an acre could earn around Rs.35,000 to 40,000 in the first harvest, said Umair Aslam Butt, Incharge of the Thar Green Initiative and Manager Health, Safety and Environment at SECMC.
He said the current market price of apple ber was Rs.2,200 per 40 kilogram.
“This demonstrates the tremendous economic potential of bio-saline orchards in Tharparkar,” he underscored but explained that in order to yield desired fruits for the initiative the underground saline water bearing 5,500 TDS was mixed with waste water in a dilution water reservoir, leading the accumulated number to 3500 TDS.
“For effective utilization of water, drip Irrigation and water sprinklers were used to conserve water as compared to traditional irrigation techniques,” he explained further.
Syed Murtaza Azhar Rizvi, Director Site Operations SECMC, said the project results had motivated the company to expand the bio-saline interventions in Thar as growing Apple Ber on saline water itself was evident that Thar holds growth potential of bio-saline orchards.
Rizvi said considering the water scarcity in the region conventional farming dependency on rainwater could be replaced by available saline water to provide a livelihood for local farmers.
He told that the project demonstrated tremendous economic and nutritional potential of bio-saline orchards across the Tharparkar region, eventually benefiting communities nutritionally and economically.
He advised the Sindh Government Sindh to come forward by introducing cooperative farming and offering subsidized solarized agriculture equipment and machinery along with soft loans to the local farmers.