ISLAMKOT – Friday, January 31, 2020: After successful experiments of growing regular crops by adopting Biosaline agriculture techniques, water-scarce region of Tharparkar has produced another hope, as Thar desert has yielded production of Apple Ber from the orchards developed under a pilot project of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) and Thar Foundation.
Fruits have started emerging 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. The experiment was part of Bio-Saline agriculture by utilizing underground water of 3rd aquifer pumped out from a depth of approx. 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.
“Within one year, these plants have started yielding fruits and every tree has yielded average 5-7 kgs of Bers. Hence 120 trees on an acre can earn approx Rs. 35-40 thousand in the first harvest only, said Umair Aslam Butt, Incharge of the Thar Green Initiative and Manager Health, Safety and Environment at Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) in a press release issued here Friday.
“The current market price of Apple Ber is approx. Rs. 2200 per maund that demonstrates the tremendous economic potential of Biosaline orchards in Tharparkar,” he said.
In order to yield desired fruits for the initiative, Butt said underground saline water-bearing 5500 TDS was mixed with wastewater in a dilution water reservoir, leading the accumulated number to 3500 TDS.
“For effective utilization of water, drip Irrigation and water sprinklers were used conserve water as compared to traditional irrigation techniques,” he explained further.
Syed Murtaza Azhar Rizvi, Director Site Operations SECMC said the project results motivate us to expand the Bio-Saline interventions in Thar as growing Apple Ber on saline water itself is evident that Thar holds growth potential of Bio-Saline Orchards.
He said, considering the water scarcity in the region, conventional farming dependency on rainwater can be replaced by available saline water to provide a livelihood for local farmers.
He further said, as this project demonstrated tremendous economic and nutritional potential of Bio-Saline Orchards across the Tharparkar region, eventually benefiting communities nutritionally and economically, the Government of Sindh should come forward by introducing cooperative farming by offering subsidized solarized agriculture equipment and machinery along with soft loans.
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