Integrated agriculture, aqua farming future of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Integrated agriculture and aqua farming on a large scale is the need of the hour for economic development of Pakistan, said Director General of Fisheries, Sindh Dr. Mir Allah Dad Talpur while talking to INP-WealthPK.
“People who are educated and knowledgeable and are keen to do innovative things are doing integrated agriculture and aqua farming on a small scale though its promotion on a large scale is the need of the hour. This practice is mostly related to the livestock, poultry farming, ducks and paddy, etc,’’ he said.
‘’In Sindh, it is a common practice at many places and is beneficial in all respects. Since integration is an organic activity, no additional supplement is provided because when two or three types of animals live in a circle, supplements hinder the growth of pathogens, etc. In Pakistan, organic farming is mostly done to meet own needs. People leave small carp in the paddy fields and dig up large ditches. When the paddy ripens, all the fish move into the depression/ditch. When the fish grow in weight and size, they are sold in the market. People are adopting different techniques in this respect. However, despite its immense benefits, this totally organic stuff does not find many customers here because our people are not aware of the nutritious value of small fish and prefer large ones. Lack of marketing and awareness hinders the development of this system.’’
Comparatively, in other countries, people prefer organic products to inorganic ones which are comparatively cheaper, he said, adding that the market systems there are developed for both organic and inorganic products. ‘’Integrated agriculture and aqua farming are environment-friendly and are very close to nature. One can grow vegetables on the pond banks. You can add poultry waste/animal dung to the pond, which will increase fish productivity. Within 12 to 14 months, more fish will grow in size or according to the market needs. Unfortunately, lack of proper marketing of organic stuff is depriving our farmers of handsome earning from organic products. Although the awareness level is gradually increasing, it is not up to the desired level,” said the DG Fisheries, Sindh.
Talking to WealthPK, Chaudhry Basharat Ali, CEO of Chaudhary Farms, Chowk Azam, Layyah, said, “I have been doing integrated farming for many years; integrated aqua and agriculture farming is my next plan. Most farmers do not want to take risks and the majority of them follow the common practices. The same problem is in the case of integration among the agricultural and aqua farming although it is very economical to follow. There is a need for an innovative awareness plan from the government agricultural offices. Though educated people are gradually accepting the change and demand for organic food, still a great ignorance is there to cope with.”
Growing population and urbanization both are acting as great stimulants to increase the seafood production. Aquaculture is expected to be a key seafood production segment to fulfill its ever-increasing demand.
Integrated aquaculture (IA) or the linking of two or more farming practices with fish farming is increasingly popular across the globe.
The seafood industry is growing day by day and becoming a great support for a sustainable source of livelihood. Integrated aquaculture is playing a vital role for farmers to make their activities more productive and profit-oriented.
IAA is also paving way for climate-smart agricultural practices. Oman has also developed a great policy keeping aqua culture at the forefront to diversify its economy by the year 2040.
Asia led the global fisheries and aquaculture market in 2020 and the production got a record rise of 214 million tonnes in 2020 (178MT of fisheries and aquaculture and 36 million tonnes of algae) and is projected to reach a 15% growth rate by the year 2030.
It is time for Pakistan to build its farmer’s capacity to adopt progressive ways of IAA for a sustainable livelihood. Proper planning can be a way to popularize this segment in our agricultural sector. It will help make the socio-economic conditions better in Pakistan.