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Yousif Channa briefing the participants about implements placed in Agriculture Training Institute (ATI).

An exposure visit of fifty-five rural farmers from different villages in Badin, Sindh, to the Wheat Research Institute (WTI) in Sakrand, Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI), Agriculture Training Institute (ATI) and the Seed processing unit of Sindh Seed Cooperation  took place in September. This visit was conducted as part of building the capacity of rural farmers on adopting sustainable agricultural practices, under the CFGB supported, Sustainable Farming and Food Security project implemented in Sindh, Pakistan.

Through this project, together with the participation of the farming communities, we are promoting the production of food, fiber, and other produce using farming techniques that aim to protect the environment, public health, communities, animal welfare as well providing long-term development and food security among the communities. Most of these Sindhi communities are most affected by climatic hazards and the adverse impact of climate change.

Muhammad Yousif Channa, Senior Instructor at ATI and Coordinator of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Unit, Sakrand facilitated this farmers’ exposure visit. The work and development of high yielding new wheat varieties of WTI were shared with the farmers and the two new wheat categories, of early and late sowing,  released by WTI, were introduced to them.

The farmers then visited the Wheat Museum where different varieties of wheat were on display. The different types of machinery in use to implement the diverse practices used for wheat crop management were shown to the farmers. This learning was essential to the rural farmers’ knowledge as they could see it’s practical implementation, enabling  them to easily apply it in their own farming to ensure successful integration of sustainable agricultural practices in their villages.

Ashraf Soomro, Director at the WTI, Sakrand, engaged the farmers in an interactive discussion to identify and address the issues they face in crop management. While responding to questions about water shortage Ashraf Soomro recommended sowing wheat on Ridge, which was also demonstrated to them, as it would save 30% to 40% of the water. He also shared with them hand bills and a booklet on wheat production technology.

At the CRRI, the farmers watched a presentation on the institute itself, the many cotton varieties it has developed and most importantly on cotton pesticides and the damages it does. The Senior Scientific Officer at the institute, then went on to talk about insects that are beneficial to crop growth and how those can be managed. During these presentations, it was learnt that development of different cotton takes 10-12 years.

The Plant Physiologist at CCRI delivered an in- depth presentation on crop production technology, focusing on soil analysis and fertility management, for the farmers. He emphasized on the importance of soil analysis, without which it would be impossible to identify if the soil is enriched with nutrients or not.

After the CCRI, the farmers’ visited the Seed Processing Unit of the Sindh Seed Corporation. The focal person at the Unit, shared and demonstrated the process of adulteration, the removal of broken and shriveled seeds, and the process of seed grading,  to ensure the production of the best seed quality.

As the last stop of the exposure visit, the farmers were introduced to the Agriculture Training Institute (ATI) and to different methods of adopting sustainable agriculture practices. The Senior Instructor at the ATI demonstrated different and cost effective methods of farming. These included compost making, plantation with pitcher irrigation, drip irrigation by using water material, propagation via air layering and organic gardening, all carried out at the ATI.

Ashraf Memon, Instructor and Veterinary Doctor at ATI, not only shared better livestock management practices but also responded to queries and prescribed medicines and indigenous techniques to control the various diseases.

The farmers were very appreciative of this exposure and learning opportunity. Not only did they learn various crop management techniques first hand but would also take back the learnings to share among their farming communities. For them it was much appreciated the visit as they learned different techniques of cop management which will be useful for them to implement in their field of work.

Since our forefathers’ time, we used to sow either by placing the seed or a vegetative part of the plant in the soil. The technique of Air Layering, i.e. to make new plants from the  branch which is in the air, was very new and  we couldn’t ever imagine that we could produce a new plant this way. This exposure visit has taught us innovative techniques of farming which can be beneficial for us.

Ghulam Mustafa Kaloi, farmer from Babar Kaloi village, Badin.

It was the first time for me to ever visit such specialized institutions. Visiting the Cotton Research Institution was a great opportunity for us to witness  and learn how to develop new cotton varieties and manage pests through an integrated approach.

Muhammad Zaman Lalial, Ghulam Hussain Lalial village, Badin.

We waste many thing which, if processed properly, can be very productive for the land. One of the example is the dispose off the medical infusion drips after utilization however we have learnt that that wasted drip can further be used for drip irrigation where there is scarcity of water. This was a new learning for me at the Agriculture Training Institute Sakrand. Water scarcity is a serious issue in our village and we cannot afford expensive irrigation Drip and Sprinkler irrigation systems due to our weak financial status. I learnt the simple and no-cost DRIP irrigation technique by using the waste material at the ATI and I applied that technique at home for kitchen gardening. I am very thankful for being given this exposure visit as it has taught me a lot.

Ahmed Khan, Muhammad Sheedi village, Badin.

Participants of kitchen gardening gathered to learn the process of Clay Pitcher Technique.

Community World Service Asia, with the support of Canadian Foodgrains Bank and PWS & D, is implementing a three year project on Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture to support flood and drought affected families in two Union Councils of District Badin in Sindh, Pakistan. Kitchen gardening is among the main components of the project.

The current summer cropping season is faced with severe water shortage in the Sindh province. This  has not only reduced major crop yields but has also limited vegetable sowing in home-based kitchen gardens which almost hundred percent of the flood affected families relied on during the last cropping season. Considering this year’s water shortage and predicted water scarcity which is due to the impact of climate changes in the area, this season, Community World Service Asia’s project team is training targeted farmer families in Kitchen Gardening through introducing the Clay Pitcher Technology. With using this method, farmers will be able to grow vegetables even with limited water.

The Clay pitcher technology is a simple, low-cost solution for dryland farming which involves the usage of wasted, scratched or broken clay pots placed at home. Unglazed clay pots with a capacity of seven to ten litres and with a conical body and narrow neck, are buried approximately one meter apart in the ground, with the mouth of the pot exposed. Vegetables are then planted around each pot which is filled with water after every four to seven days. Water percolation from the pot moisturizes the surrounding soil to make bed with enough moisture that can help produce healthy vegetables.

Along with being inexpensive, the Clay pitcher irrigation technology is very simple to follow ensuring  farmers sustainability, food diversification and an increase in nutrition levels at farming homes even in worse water scarcity conditions. Abdul Sattar, a farmer from Abbas Thabo village, shares,

“the clay pitcher techniques is innovative and cost effective which effectively addresses the water scarcity issue in kitchen gardening for us.”

In another village, Muhammad Bux Diwani, Bachaln Bibi, a house-wife and kitchen gardener, shared,

“This technique has aided in mobilizing our available waste materials in areas where we experience water shortage to ensure a productive growth of vegetables in our gardens throughout the year.”

Kitchen gardening activities conducted under the Sustainable Farming project in Badin aim to improve food security and household nutrition for disaster affected communities. Mirzadi, wife of Photo Khan and mother of eight children, belonging to Abdul Karim Leghari village in Badin, is one of the most active participants of the kitchen gardening trainings in Badin.

Six of Mirzadi’s children are married while she lives with two of her unmarried sons, who work for daily wages as labourers and sharecroppers in the area, supporting their mother and their very old and unwell father.  The family does not own any land and relies solely on the income of the two young boys.

Mirzadi had no experience or expertise of growing vegetables before the kitchen gardening training. Earlier, she purchased vegetables for cooking from the local markets. This was expensive for her as she had to travel a distance to reach the markets and then buy the vegetables at whatever rates were offered. Considering the menial income of her sons, this was difficult to afford very often.

At the kitchen gardening trainings, Mirzadi learnt basic gardening skills and the knowledge to grow her own vegetables in her own little garden. Mirzadi found the “nutrition session” most interesting as it highlighted the importance of providing her family with nutritious food by consuming fresh and chemical free vegetables.

Upon the completion of the training, Mirzadi prepared a patch of land near her house to sow the seeds she received after the training. Soon after the seeds cultivated, producing fresh nutritious vegetables, Mirzadi observed a substantial decrease in her household, especially kitchen, expenses. This saving allowed her to keep the money for other domestic matters and healthcare needs. Mirzadi is successfully growing spinach, carrots, radish, garlic, coriander and tomatoes in her garden.

“My family is regularly consuming nutritious food including fresh and green vegetables from my kitchen garden,”

Mirzadi happily expressed.

“Kitchen Garden has proven to be very useful for our family as it has ensured a greater degree of self-sufficiency. Though my grandsons and granddaughters are living separately, I send them freshly grown vegetables from my garden to ensure their healthy diet as well.”

Hasan of village Fazal Wadho, participant, expressed, “We were wasting valuable natural resources, but now I will utilize these resources for sustainable agriculture practices.”

An exposure visit of sixty farmers from Badin, Sindh, to the Central Cotton Research Institute, Agriculture Training Institute and Wheat Research Institute was conducted and facilitated in Sakrand last week of March under the Promoting Sustainable Agriculture Farming project supported by Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB).

Mr. Muhammad Yousaf Channa, coordinator and senior Instructor for the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) unit at Agriculture Training Institute in Sakrand, facilitated the visit along with Community World Service Asia staff. The participants were welcomed by Dr. Abdul Waris Sanjrani, Director,Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI).

The CCRI is engaged in multidisciplinary researches conducted in the field of Agronomy, Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cytogenetics, Entomology, Plant Pathology, Plant Physiology and a newly established section, Transfer of Technology. Since its inception, the Institute has successfully evolved considerable number of high yielding cotton varieties at required fiber qualities. Abdullah Keerio and Saira Bano, Scientific officers at the Institute, introduced production technology to the participants. Shah Nawaz Khoro, Senior Scientific Officer, explained Cotton Insect pests. A documentary was also screened showing the cotton production technology.

Abdul Wahab Soomro and Vishandas Suthar, also Scientific officers at the Institute, facilitated the participants through their visit of the greenhouse placed with parental genes of cotton plants imported from various countries for development of further progenies. The Glass house was another visiting site in the location where cotton cultivars were planted in winter in controlled environments to save the time required for evaluation of new variety. The participants were amazed to visit the Cold Room where decades old cotton seeds are preserved.

At the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), the group of visiting farmers was welcomed by Dr. Ghulam Mustafa Jamali, Principal of the Institute (ATI). The farmers were briefed about the integrated crop and pest management process and systems by the coordinator at ATI and experienced new procedures of organic backyard gardening, compost making, optimum use of available waste resources for more productive plantation and innovative methods to measure soil moisture. At the Wheat Research Institute, Dr. Kareem Bux Lagari, briefed the participants regarding the varieties of wheat grown in experimental fields and demonstrated how different strains and wheat are developed. The farmers then visited the demonstration field where production technologies were functioning and lastly to the Wheat Museum where a large variety of wheat was on display.

The Sindhi farming community is very apprehensive about the current cropping season. They are looking for best suitable crop varieties in accordance to the soil composition and the changing climate. Previously they use to purchase any variety of plant to yield but these exposure visits have made the farmers more aware about seed selection and crop management as per changing seasons. Moreover, the farmers are now planning to use waste material for crop and vegetable production. One of the participant has already started making compost from the waste material and is planning to go for ridge sowing in the following wheat season to collect a good yield.

Aqlan, a thirty-two year old mother of five school going children financially supports her family, including her husband and brother-in-law. Her main source of income is earned through agricultural fieldwork and livestock management.

“Badin district is situated at the tail end of canal irrigation system. Therefore, the agriculture fields are faced by severe water scarcity. The land has low productivity due to unfertile soil and lack of water. We have to depend on livestock rearing to supplement family earning,”

an exhausted Aqlan explains.

Nominated as a kitchen gardening training participant of a disaster response project in Badin, Aqsa received vegetable seeds for home-growing at her home yard in her village, Mohammad Abbas Thebo.

“Puran Nadi, a natural flow of River Indus, not only irrigates thousands of acres of land but also provides drinking water to the surrounding communities. Sadly, the disposal of chemical waste in the river has not only made the water undrinkable but unusable for irrigation as well. The contaminated water is gradually devouring the fertile soil land as well. After receiving the kitchen gardening training and vegetable seeds, I decided to prepare a patch of land for sowing the seeds to produce fresh vegetables, with the support of my family.”

As a result, Aqlan’s family grew garden-fresh vegetables on a daily basis, improving the quality and quantity of their food consumption.

“Kitchen gardening enhanced my family’s food diversification as it helps me to grow different kinds of vegetables seasonally. Our expense on purchasing vegetables from market has decreased exceptionally. I have also generated revenue of PKR5000 by selling the surplus in the nearby market.”

Aqsa revealed that she also bought a male goat from her savings which will benefit her family in the long run.

“We are planning to sell the goat on the festive of Eid for a good price of PKR25000. I am so pleased that I have been given a chance to do something meaningful in my life for my family’s support and care.”

DurationOct 01, 2015Mar 31, 2016
LocationDistrict Sujawal of Sindh Province, Pakistan
Key Activities
  • Village Committee Formation
  • Monthly food distribution for five consecutive months
  • Agriculture inputs (seeds) distribution
  • Training on Integrated Crop Management
  • Trainings on CBDRM
Participants2,100 flood affected food insecure families

DurationOct 01, 2015Sep 28, 2018
LocationDistrict Badin, Sindh Province, Pakistan
Key Activities
  • Trainings of farmers on sustainable production techniques through farmer field school (FFS) approach
  • Formation of community organizations
  • Sessions of target farmer on balanced diet
  • Sessions on Kitchen gardening
  • Sessions on CBDRM
  • Farmer field festivals and exposure visits
Participants650 farmer families