Tag Archives: Agriculture

Pakistani farmers struggle to switch to solar powered pumps

By Aamir Saeed

Amid Pakistan’s growing energy crisis, farmers are being encouraged to switch from diesel to solar powered water pumps, but few can afford the initial costs

Arshad Khan recently converted his diesel-operated water pump to solar energy to save money on his monthly diesel bill. He grows wheat, vegetables, peanuts and sugar-cane on his 18 hectare farm in Attock district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

“In April last year I decided to convert my tube well to solar energy after my diesel costs rose to 29,000 rupees (US$287) per month,” he said.

In Pakistan, there are over 1.1 million agriculture tube wells, with only 30% of them operated by electricity.

As the country faces a growing energy crisis, farmers are left with no option but to switch from diesel to solar energy to irrigate their crops. Tube wells consume around 2,000 million litres of diesel every year.

Khan is now encouraging other farmers in the area to install solar panels, pointing out the long-term economic benefits despite the initial expenditure of 1.8 million rupees (US$17,827).

National solar drive?

Pakistan’s government recently approved the use of grid-connected solar energy and rooftop solar installations and cut import taxes on solar equipment in a bid to boost solar power across the country.

In the next few months, Pakistan will add 100MW from the Quaid-e-Azam solar park in Punjab province to the national grid for the first time, with an additional 50MW to be added within a year. The project is part of Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, under which China will invest US$33 billion including in the energy and power sector.

But the country’s solar sector has a long way to go. “At the moment, generation of solar energy in the public sector is zero as all the projects are being done in the private sector,” said Asjad Imtiaz Ali, CEO of the Alternative Energy Development Board, a government organisation.

Chairman of Pakistan Solar Association, Faiz Muhammad Bhutta, recently urged the government to do more to spread solar power: he called for a 20,000-MW solar target by 2026, following the example of India’s National Solar Mission.

Despite plummeting oil prices, Asjad Imtiaz Ali believes Pakistan should continue to develop its renewable energy sector as a way of reducing its reliance on volatile fossil imports for electricity.

Almost half of Pakistan’s total electricity generation comes from expensive thermal energy sources and this means electricity prices have become unaffordable, according to the country’s 2013 National Power Policy.

Solar is the most viable and reliable energy source for agriculture, argues Dr Qamar-uz-Zaman, climate change and renewable energy expert with LEAD Pakistan, an NGO based in Islamabad. He believes farmers across the country should be encouraged to convert their diesel-operated water pumps to solar energy.

“Agriculture tube wells can be operated directly from solar panels as no batteries are required to store the energy for them,” Dr Qamar-uz-Zaman said, adding farmers can recover costs within three to four years by saving on diesel and electricity bills.

Read more » The Third Pole
See more » http://www.thethirdpole.net/pakistani-farmers-struggle-to-switch-to-solar-powered-pumps/

Alternative barrages must for Sindh agriculture

By DR ABDUL QADEER MEMON, Naushahro Feroze

THE Sindh government should seriously explore the possibility of building alternative barrages to save the agricultural sector of the province.

Sindh had the best irrigation system with three barrages, but due to inattention of the authorities concerned it had fallen prey to degradation.

The Irsa team had warned that a delta had been created in the Sukkur barrage’s water storage area which was threatening its structure.

The Sukkur barrage is 85 years old and used to feed eight million acres through its seven major canals. But it is in bad shape now for the past many years. The condition of Kotri and Guddu barrages is even worse.

The British used to determine the flow of water with tail gauges. However, today there is no concept for such gauges in the irrigation department.

The Sukkur barrage often faces different technical issues. The barrage would outlive its utility, so the government should start planning accordingly to protect agriculture.

During floods, its water discharges downstream Sukkur couldn’t flow under the Larkana-Khairpur and Dadu-Moro bridges. Alternative barrages have already been built in Punjab.

It seems as if the Sindh governement is waiting for the destruction of our agricultural sector. The government should explore the option of building an alternative to the Sukkur barrage.

Such barrages are necessary to save Sindh’s agriculture. Honest and hard-working engineers of the federal, Sindh and Punjab governments should be hired for the process.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1034404

Indo-Pak Borders blur as experts brainstorm on education

Borders blur as experts brainstorm on education

The Aman ki Asha Education Committee met in New Delhi last Thursday to decide on ways in which India and Pakistan can collaborate to bring about reforms in education on both sides of the border. The Indo-Pak Education/Skills Development Committee is one of the six committees formed after the Aman ki Asha Business Meet in May 2010, to take forward cooperation in the areas that delegates had identified as having the greatest potential for cooperation – Education/Skills Development, Textiles, Information Technology (IT), Agriculture, Energy and Healthcare.At a day-long meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), The Times of India, the Jang Group, and Pakistan India CEOs Business Forum at India Habitat Centre, luminaries from both countries shared problems and achievements in their education sectors followed by some brainstorming for effective solutions. ….

Read more » Aman Ki Asha

VICTIMIZATION OF SASSO OFFICERS

Would the Chief Secretary and the Chief Minister of Sindh redress the financial problems of Sindh Government retired Sasso officers as they are not being paid their monthly pensions in time. When approached the concerned Section officer of Sindh Agriculture department, he responded rudely that State Bank of Pakistan does not release them the funds and if any further inquiry or reason is asked, he usually stop talking and putting the receiver of the phone to avoid any further inquiry. Secondly, the annual increment as allowed by the Government to their other serving and retired employees, has still not allowed Sasso officers such annual increments. We shall be highly grateful if our financial problems are solved being the retired and senior citizens of Sindh Pakistan.

Ghulam Hussain Qureshi, Retired officer of Sasso, Old Halla – Sindh

Received via email – drdhakansindheconomist@hotmail.com

Pakistan is near to declare bankruptcy

Rs100 crore a day

By Dr Farrukh Saleem

Pakistan’s Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) are falling like nine pins. The Pakistan Railways, the Pakistan International Airlines, the Pakistan Steel Mills, the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) and the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) collectively end up loosing Rs360 billion a year – Rs100 crore a day every day of the year. That’s a hundred crore the government does not have – so it begs, borrows, steals and prints.

Currently, Nadeem Khan Yousufzai, MD PIA, is managing to lose Rs7 crore a day every day of the year. Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Federal Minister of Railways, is managing to lose Rs5 crore a day every day of the year. PIA’s half yearly report titled “Flying towards a prosperous future” reports that liabilities went up from Rs62 billion in 2005 to Rs200 billion in 2009. PIA’s annual report titled “We stand for national values” reports that net losses at the PIA have gone up from Rs4.4 billion in 2005 to Rs35 billion in 2008. At the Pakistan Railways, the overdraft now floats around a hefty Rs48 billion.

In mid-2009, the Pepco’s circular debt had reached a colossal Rs300 billion and that’s when the Government of Pakistan gave birth to another illegitimate dragon – Power Holding Company. The new dragon took over all of the Pepco’s sins by borrowing heavily from the banking sector but within two years of that take-over the Pepco committed 300 billion additional sins. And now the banks have not much left to lend.

The power sector debt – Rs485 billion and rising fast – just by itself has the potential of landing Pakistan’s entire banking sector into the gutter. Loosing Rs100 crore a day every day of the year will land the government into a ditch deeper than the government has ever been in.

We desperately need a Public Sector Turnaround Strategy (PSTS) without which our very survival as an effective nation-state is at stake. Our survival is at stake and yet our decision-makers are all about political rallies. I was once told that politics is the second oldest profession but the way our politicians are practicing politics it bears a close resemblance to the first. ….

Read more » The News

Sindh Agriculturalists and US Aid-supported highly efficient Tube-Well

USAID/Pakistan Highlights U.S. Commitment to Helping Mitigate the Pakistan Energy Crisis through Tube Well Efficiency Improvement Program (TWEIP) in Pakistan

USAID is working with Pakistani farmers to reduce peak electricity demand through a USAID program that helps farmers replace irrigation tube well pump sets with new energy efficient pump and motor sets

via » Sindhi Excellence Team, Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, November 1, 2011.

Many in Pakistan Fear Unrest at Home

By JANE PERLEZ

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Protests over crippling prices and corrupt leadership are sweeping much of the Islamic world, but here in Pakistan this week, the government blithely dismissed any threat to its longevity or to the country’s stability.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani insisted that Pakistan was not Egypt or Tunisia. “Our institutions are working and democracy is functional,” he said. The economy, while under pressure, is not in crisis.

But while Mr. Gilani appeared unruffled, diplomats, analysts and other Pakistani officials admitted to unease, and conceded that Pakistan contained many of the same ingredients for revolt found in the Middle East — and then some: an economy hollowed out by bad management and official corruption; rising Islamic religious fervor; and a poisonous resentment of the United States, Pakistan’s biggest financial supporter.

If no one expects Pakistan to be swept by revolution this week, the big question on many minds is how, and when, a critical mass of despair among this nation’s 180 million people and the unifying Islamist ideology might be converted into collective action.

Some diplomats and analysts compare the combustible mixture of religious ideology and economic frustration, overlaid with the distaste for America, to Iran in 1979. Only one thing is missing: a leader.

“What’s lacking is a person or institution to link the economic aspirations of the lower class with the psychological frustration of the committed Islamists,” a Western diplomat said this week. “Our assessment is: this is like Tehran, 1979.”

Mr. Gilani is right in that Pakistan held fairly free elections three years ago, when the democratically based Pakistan Peoples Party, led by President Asif Ali Zardari, won.

But the return to civilian government after a decade of military rule has meant little to the people because politicians have done nothing for voters, said Farrukh Saleem, a risk analyst and columnist in The News, a daily newspaper.

As it has been for all of Pakistan’s more than 60 years of history, Parliament today remains dominated by the families of a favored few, who use their perch to maintain a corrupt patronage system and to protect their own interests as Pakistan’s landed and industrial class. The government takes in little in taxes, and as a result provides little in the way of services to its people.

“Ninety-nine percent of Pakistanis are not affected by the state — it doesn’t deliver anything for them,” Mr. Saleem said. “People are looking for alternatives. So were the Iranians in 1979.”

There is little question that the images from Egypt and Tunisia are reverberating through Pakistani society, and encouraging workers to speak up and vent frustration in ways that were unusual even three months ago.

“There’s no electricity, no gas, no clean water,” said Ali Ahmad, a hotel worker in Lahore who is usually a model of discretion. “I think if things stay the same, people will come out and destroy everything.”

When a young banker in a prestigious job at a foreign bank was asked if Pakistan could go the way of Egypt, he replied, “I hope so.”

At the core of Pakistan’s problem are the wretched economic conditions of day-to-day life for most of the people whose lives are gouged by inflation, fuel shortages and scarcity of work.

They see the rich getting richer, including “the sons of rich, corrupt politicians and their compatriots openly buying Rolls-Royces with their black American Express cards,” said Jahangir Tareen, a reformist politician and successful agricultural businessman.

Food inflation totaled 64 percent in the last three years, according to Sakib Sherani, who resigned recently as the principal economic adviser at the Finance Ministry. The purchasing power of the average wage earner has declined by 20 percent since 2008, he said.

Families are taking children out of school because they cannot afford both fees and food. Others choose between medicine and dinner.

A middle-class customer in a pharmacy in Rawalpindi, the city where the powerful army has its headquarters, told the pharmacist last week to sell him only two pills of a course of 10 antibiotics because he did not have enough money for groceries. …

Read more : The New York Times

Pakistan: Kalabagh dam threatens livelihood of millions

by Ray Fulcher

GREEN LEFT

… construction of a massive dam in 2016 on the Indus river at Kalabagh, near the border between the Punjab and North West Frontier provinces. Opponents of the World Bank-funded dam project see it as another grab for water by the Punjabi ruling elite, which dominates federal politics in Pakistan.

The government claims that the dam is necessary for Pakistan’s economic development, that it will provide 3600 megawatts of hydroelectric power and 35,000 jobs.

Musharraf has said that the dam project will proceed against any opposition and that the federal and Punjabi governments will topple any provincial government that opposes the project. Of Pakistan’s four provinces, three provincial parliaments — North West Frontier (NWFP), Sindh and Balochistan — have passed resolutions opposing the dam.

On December 31, four progressive parties in Punjab united to protest against the proposed dam. The rally, held in Lahore, was charged by police, and activists of the four parties — the National Workers Party, the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), the Pakistan Mazdoor Mehaz and the Mazdoor Kissan Party — were beaten.

Farooq Tariq, an organiser of the rally and national secretary of the LPP told Green Left Weekly by phone: “The LPP opposes the dam because it will deny Sindh its share of water and turn it into a desert. We oppose the construction of big dams on environmental grounds. Furthermore, this dam will benefit the Punjab ruling class and will add to the exploitation of Sindh. All provinces except the Punjab have repeatedly opposed the construction of this dam. This democratic verdict should be taken as a referendum and the dam abandoned.

Continue reading Pakistan: Kalabagh dam threatens livelihood of millions

SOCIAL CRISIS STALKS PAKISTAN

People fleeing rising floodwaters with what possessions they can carry.

The catastrophe is being shaped by powerful political and economic forces–and the most vulnerable have been left to fend for themselves, reports Snehal Shingavi.

IT HAS been nearly a month since the floods tore through the Swat valley in the northern part of Pakistan. The water has begun flowing into the ocean, and water levels have begun to fall in most places, but the sheer magnitude of the devastation left in its wake is overwhelming.

Read more >> NewRedIndians

Sindh-WAPDA dispute

By G.N.Mughul, Karachi, Sindh

Karachi, Apr. 25: Sindh-WAPDA dispute on the construction of Reni Canal in Guddu Barrage Canal Command area particularly relating to the extension of divide wall near the head regulator of Ghotki Canal, could not be resolved despite a series of the joint meetings between the high officials of WAPDA and Sindh Government held last week.

As the result, ultimately the work on the construction of the extension of existing divide wall has been stopped and till the filing of this report there was complete stalemate with regard to the fate of the project itself.

Meanwhile, the growers of Ghotki Feeder are reported to be agitating against the construction of the proposed divide wall as according to their apprehensions, with the construction of the said divide wall the water supply to Ghotki Feeder from Guddu Barrage would be affected miserably causing serious water shortage for lakhs of acres irrigated on the water supplied from Ghotki Feeder.

According to the details, no doubt the feasibility of Reni Canal was prepared by Sindh Government in 1988. But, afterwards, on coming to the conclusion that there was no enough water available in Indus for operating new reservoirs or new canals, Sindh Government virtually lost interest in this project. This project aimed at irrigating about 412400 acres of land of desert area of Ghotki, Sukkur, and Khairpur districts.

In the meantime, during Pervaiz Musharaf rule, at a high level meeting held in Lahore under the chairmanship of the then Chief Executive Gen. Pervaiz Musharaf, Water Vision was approved which also included Reni Canal project from Sindh.

It is said that Sindh Government was not consulted while including this scheme in the said Water Vision. According to some circles, this scheme was included in the Vision by Federal Government/Wapda at its own to balance the proposal to construct controversial Greater Thal Canal – the scheme included the said water vision.

By the way, there is not only major contradiction between the stands of WAPDA and Sindh Government on the extension of Divide Wall but interestingly the independent irrigation experts have reservations on the place for the construction of Head Regulator of Reni Canal also. Their position is in contradiction with the position of WAPDA as well as that of Sindh Government.

According to experts, originally it was conceived that Reni Canal would be a flood canal but as per its present design, if constructed it would be operated as irrigation canal resultantly it is bound to affect miserably the operation of Ghotki Canal, the water drawing capacity of which is about 11000 cusecs and lakhs of acres are irrigated on this canal.

According to WAPDA documents, as per the recommendations of model study: (a) Head Regulator was to be located in the left guide bank instead of left marginal bund, (b) size of left pocket should be increased to 7 bays by constructing a new divide wall, and (c) Silt Excluder should be constructed perpendicular to the Barrage in front off Ghotki and Rainee Canal Head Regulators.

The WAPDA documents further state that on 17th January, 2005, Secretary, Irrigation & Power Department, Government of Sindh, conveyed concurrence for carrying out the works: (a) extension of existing left divide wall, (b) provision of silt excluder, and (c) River Training works to centralize river flow.

On the other hand, Secretary Irrigation, Sindh, Shuja Jenejo, while talking to FP, out rightly rejected the stand of WAPDA that:” he ever gave concurrence to extend the existing divide wall”. He said, the position taken by WAPDA was ridiculous as their said stand was based on the premise that Chief Engineer Guddu Barrage sent a letter to him (Secretary Irrigation) by which he gave concurrence to the extension to the existing divide wall. He said, firstly even he did not receive any such letter from the Chief Engineer. Moreover, he said that only Provincial Secretary but not a Chief Engineer is competent to give such concurrence.

According to Sindh’s Secretary irrigation, Sindh Government had agreed with the proposal to construct divide wall as was conceived in Nadipur study. He said, Sindh Government did never approve the extension of that divide wall. Besides, he contended that Sindh Government had proposed to construct the divide wall at 7th Span for 1200 ft. while WAPDA has constructed divide wall at 4th Span instead of 7th Span. He said, it was not acceptable to Sindh. He contended that if divide wall was extended then water supply through Ghotki Canal would be affected miserably.

Meanwhile, the independent irrigation experts have strong reservations on the construction of Reni Canal Herad Regulator in the main protective bund near the Head Regulator of Ghotki Canal. As against that, they said, originally it was conceived that the Head Regulator of Reni Canal would be constructed in the Marginal Bund at a distance from the Head Regulator of Ghotki Canal so that the supply through Ghotki Canal is not affected with the operation of Reni Canal.

In the meantime, recently a general body meeting of the chairmen of 62 Farmers Organisations of Ghotki was held in Ghotki, which, through a unanimous resolution, rejected the extension of existing divide wall near Ghotki Canal Head Regulator.

G.N. Mughul is a senior Journalist of Sindh. He is currently working with English daily of Pakistan, The Frontier Post. He can be reached at gnmughul@yahoo.com

Courtesy: The Frontier Post

AGRICULTURE CREDIT SEMINAR AT KHAIRPUR, SINDH

By Dr Ali Akbar Dhakan, Karachi, Sindh
Being the mainstay of Pakistan economy, Agriculture sector was prioratized particularly by the first civilian Govt. of Paksitan during seventies, in order to boost agricultural production and to increase the per acre

Continue reading AGRICULTURE CREDIT SEMINAR AT KHAIRPUR, SINDH