Experts, researchers and academia carrying expertise on spate irrigation system hailing from Pakistan’s all provinces, including Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Balochistan and Sindh and one from Netherlands gave rationale about the need of investment to develop this neglected irrigation system to produce grain crops to cope the challenges of food security of the country.
They were speaking at ‘National Conference on Spate Irrigation: Potential and Challenges’ jointly organised by Sindh Agriculture University (SAU) Tandojam and Research and Development Foundation (RDF) on Monday.
SAU VC Dr Mujeebuddin Memon Sehrai appreciated the efforts of Sindh Government of Rehabilitation of Sukkur Barrage, which is main source of water of irrigation of the province. He said “still we could not understand the flood and droughts. When we see flood water we misunderstand believing it is disaster. But actually it is natural flow.” He said proper construction of spate system should be introduced, which could be only way out of the development.
Because, it is observed that spate development is being initiated where there is no need. This development should be initiated after realising baseline to move on progress of the country, the VC said.
Dr Frank van Steerbergen, CEO Meta Research & Spate Foundation Netherlands, sharing his experiences, said there is more work on spate irrigation in the world. But there is need to improve spate irrigation system in the Sindh province, because Sindh has huge potential in arid zone to save the water through this technology.
He further added that through spate the experts can save the water and produce more grain crops to cater the needs of the population of livestock as well as human being. He said floods are assets and it should be taken for the prosperity through agriculture development of the country. He also shared the world spate irrigation experiences of the world with stakeholders.
Executive Director RDF Masood Mahesar sharing objectives of the conference said they have conducted study on spate irrigation, covering all the areas, including Jamshoro, Dadu, Thatta, Khairpur, Kambar Shahdadkot and Malir Karachi, which shows that it could be effective for promoting alternate irrigation system. He said Punjab and KPK provincial governments have developed infrastructure about spate, but in Sindh there are only communities working on themselves, conventionally.
Dr Saffar Mirjat, Dean Faculty of Agriculture Engineering at SAU, Masood Ahmed Mahesar, Executive Director RDF, Dr Azmat Hayat, Director Met Department, Islamabad, Dr Maqsood Ahmed of Balochistan University of Technology and Engineering, Zaheer ul Ikram of Pakistan Research Council (ORC), Professor Ismail Kumbhar, Ashfaq Soomro of RDF and representatives of farmers, and other leading institutions participated in the conference.
Allah Bakhsh Khan of Spate Foundation of Pakistan, Islamabad, working on operational and management of spate irrigation, proposed to have national level networking of farmers, experts and researchers representing all the provinces to work together. In his understanding, he said since spate is neglected sector, there is need to document the problems and then work on solutions.
“If there is some missing crops in any area we should introduce the same to there so the people there may get benefit. Similarly, Knowledge sharing between all provinces on the subject should be promoted,” he said. He claims to have visited entire Pakistan’s spate areas and have enough learning about the situation.
Karim Nawaz, hailing from Dera Ghazi Khan, Punjab, who conducted the research in Sindh said the importance of spate can be realised in the fact that majority of population in Karachi receives water through rainy water ways, like Hub River.
It is spate system which needs to be developed for irrigation, drinking water, livestock and recharging underground water systems. He said Pakistan is not out of water but we need management to provide the water to the communities, who need water.
Raza Muhammad general secretary of Barani Abadgar Association shared the community perspective about managing rain water for long as they depend on spate irrigation system. He belongs to Manjhand, Jamshoro district to mobilise the community to raise voice to ensure investment on developing this neglected system.
Aneela Memon, a PhD from Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) talking about the women role in spate areas in agriculture and livestock rearing, saying women have key role in cropping and livestock rearing.
At the end the conference issued Tandojam declaration and following recommendation said that Pakistan has a huge potential of spate flows, but this water is not being used optimally and as a result are causing scouring, erosion and damage to costly infrastructures, settlements, lands and other properties. The Spate is neglected as sector, particularly in Sindh, however its management must be improve as sometime natural streams cause disastrous for communities.
News source: Business Recorder