Thar Foundation, PARC Sign MoU To Create Greater Economic Opportunities
Celebrating the implementation of novel ideas for sustainable development in Thar, the country’s top agriculture research body, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), has declared Thar Foundation’s pilot project, Bio-Saline Agriculture in Thar, “a great success”.
The Thar Foundation and PARC have also decided to scale up the project to focus more on creating economic opportunities for local farmers in order to create a sustainable flow of income for inhabitants of the natural disaster-prone region of Tharparkar.
Thar Foundation and PARC joined hands in 2018 for a pilot project and have successfully tested grafted species of Bairi (Jujube), Lemon and Cheeku (Sapota) over an area of 20 acres with drip irrigation as a mode of irrigation through Bio-Saline Agriculture.
In order to implement the initiative, Thar Foundation and PARC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a collaboration that will focus on testing salt-resistant fodder and cash crop species, training of local farmers, information exchange, awareness campaigns and the development of an economic value chain for the previously tested species.
According to a pamphlet issued on Tuesday, the partnership between Thar Foundation and PARC was strengthened with the renewal of the MoU. The two organizations agreed to carry on their collaboration and to pursue the common objective of developing Bio-Saline agriculture for the promotion of economic opportunities in Thar.
The MoU was signed during a ceremony held at the Thar Coal Block site. It was signed by Naseer Memon, General Manager Thar Foundation, and Dr. Muhammad Azeem Khan, Chairman PARC.
The Thar Foundation will provide land in addition to the 20 acres it previously allocated for the execution of the Bio-Saline project. It will also provide the required resources i.e. water, seeds and saplings. The Thar Foundation will also continue to provide necessary support to facilitate the execution of the project including the provision of funds to the farmers.
Speaking on the occasion, PARC Chairman, Azeem Khan, appreciated the efforts of the Thar Foundation for the successful germination and yield of Jujube and Lemon orchard in Thar on saline water. He termed the pilot project a “great success” and said that Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) and Thar Foundation are an important strategic partner for the promotion of Bio-Saline Agriculture in the Thar region. He also emphasized the importance of developing a value chain for successful pilot projects so that economic opportunities can be created for the people of Thar.
Mr. Naseer Memon, GM Thar Foundation, said that Bio-Saline Agriculture has the potential to contribute towards the Zero Hunger as listed under the UN-SDGs and that the Thar Foundation is aiming to make Islamkot a SDG compliant Taluka by 2025.
“After the success of the pilot, the extended partnership will provide opportunities to local farmers and the community adoption of Bio-Saline Agriculture will minimize the region’s dependency on rain and help stop migrations” Mr. Memon added.
HSE Manager of SECMC, Umair Aslam Butt, who is leading the programs for Thar Foundation added that “The Bio-Saline initiatives are part of our organization’s vision of a Green Thar and we are getting very positive results from our pilot projects of fodder and fruit species”.
Project Director of AZRI Center, Dr. Attaullah termed this collaboration as a new beginning for Thar and said that his institute will continue to provide technical assistance and expand the range of species being tested.