Depleting Groundwater Threatens Soil’s Fertility, Food Security

Sun Apr 09 2023
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ISLAMABAD: While facing a number of economic challenges, the nation is also suffering from environmental, food, and other challenges, where the depleting surface of the water table and shrinking f groundwater resources per capita is another such major challenge that might become severe in the near future.

The key challenge is the depleting water table posing a threat to the fertility of the soil fertility, agriculture, food security, and ecological system as its scarcity increases the salt concentration in soil, resulting in adverse effects both on human health and agriculture.

With enhanced water demand with the passage of time, there is a dire need for sagacious usage of water as mounting pressure on the available resource would make the situation more critical in days ahead.

As an Agriculture-based country, about 90 percent of our available water resource is used for agriculture. The remaining ten percent is utilized to meet human, industrial, and other usages.

According to a report by the IMF-2021(International Monetary Fund), Pakistan’s annual per capita water availability is 1017 cubic meters., which was 5110 cubic meters back in 1951. If the downward trend still goes on, sooner Pakistan will be reckoned among the water-scare countries.

According to Professor Dr Tanveer Ahmed, Head of the Department of Soil and Environmental Sciences, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture Multan, “In Pakistan, the agriculture sector is pumping average 60 percent water for irrigation, depending on the demand of various crops”, “Depleting water table is likely to create food insecurity in the near future by affecting the soil’s fertility. The concentration of salt is increasing due to the continuous process of going down of the water table,” Dr Tanveer warned.

He observed that the water table varied different at scattered places, ranging from 40 to 80 feet in different areas of Southern Punjab. Similarly, the depleting water table was also threatening the ecological system, which may result in affecting the natural grass in the coming years. “With the scarcity of water underground, it would become harder for the plant roots to get enough water naturally and this phenomenon will lead to damage our ecosystem.”

Affects of depleting groundwater

According to a boring plumber and experts, the water table went down about 15 feet during the last ten to fifteen years. Farmers say that depleting groundwater increases electricity bills and fuel costs as they have to pump out more water to irrigate their lands.

They say as the canal water is not available throughout the year, the farmers have to move for alternates, resulting in the depletion of groundwater. Therefore, the government needs to evolve a comprehensive strategy to conserve the available resource and add to them further by constructing reservoirs.

They also demanded the government introduce drip irrigation and sprinkling to save water and solar systems for effective use of water and reduce production costs for a better and happier Pakistan.

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