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Somalia seeks Pak researchers’help to rehabilitate barren land

Storyline:National News

Somalian scientists have requested their counterparts at Karachi University to assist them in the rehabilitation of barren and saline regions in their country.

This was disclosed to the media by Professor Dr Bilquees Gull, the senior researcher associated with KU’s Institute of Sustainable Halophyte Utilization (ISHU), on Monday.

She had recently returned after attending a conference on climate change held in Ethiopia under the aegis of UNESCO.

Mentioning that the world was currently experiencing a fast change in climate than it ever had in the past, the researcher said that consequent higher average global temperatures were causing fresh water crisis that was directly related to challenges for cash crop fisheries and livestock.

She said the problems of cash crop production due to drought and salinity can be overcome by using latest technology and expertise available at the University of Karachi converting challenges into opportunities.

Dr. Gull said the UNESCO office in Addis Ababa has also invited the ISHU to participate in the programs related to floating mangroves in the dry regions of Somalia for developing fodder crops on saline lands.

“If such things are successful in Pakistan then it may be useful in the African countries also to ensure sustainable cattle farming which would play a vital role in increasing the production of milk and meat in the region while it would help to reduce the poverty and famine in these regions.” she elaborated.

The researcher said the Addis Ababa conference was focused on the sustainable development of dry land agriculture in the arid and saline regions of Somalia and the development of conventional and non-conventional fodder crops.

She reiterated that there are vast surfaces of untapped resources of barren and abandoned marginal lands that are commonly believed useless while on the contrary have been demonstrated to be of high value. With specific reference to Pakistan, Dr Gull said the ISHU was making optimum utilization of modern technology to understand the physiology of salt tolerance in plants so that the complexities of Halophytes can be unfolded.

This was all the more crucial, she said, as water of good quality for agricultural uses was becoming ever more limited in regions where irrigation was necessary due to increasing requirements for domestic and industrial uses.

“In the given situation, sea or saline water may be used to irrigate a variety of plants, including halophytes.”

Similarly, the researcher said, under extreme conditions of soil or water salinity where no crop of agricultural interest could be grown it was possible to imagine dedicated halophyte plantations for forage production, soil rehabilitation, bio-energy generation, landscaping, carbon sequestering and a number of other useful purposes at no cost in terms of good quality water and soil.

Source : The News (Pakistan)

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