The United States and Pakistani governments launched the Punjab Province’s Soil Fertility Atlas, a publication aimed at monitoring and sustaining soil fertility and strengthening the agricultural sector.
USAID Mission Director Jerry Bisson, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan and Chairman Pakistan Agricultural Research Council Dr. Yusuf Zafar inaugurated the Punjab Province’s Soil Fertility Atlas at the National Agricultural Research Center in Islamabad earlier today.
“The atlas we are launching today will help in understanding the soil fertility management changes required for sustainable intensification in Punjab, which is the bread basket of Pakistan and accounts for 60 percent of Pakistan’s agricultural output,” Mission Director Bisson said. “We are proud of the role the United States has played for many years to support the development of Pakistan’s agriculture sector and hope this effort is continued by other stakeholders.”
Minister Bosan noted, “I am confident that the Soil Fertility Atlas for Punjab province will help define the soil fertility management changes required for sustainable intensification in the Punjab province. I expect an array of stakeholders to benefit from this Atlas including farmers, extension workers, soil/agriculture/environment professionals, economists and policy makers in the public as well as private sectors.”
This initiative is a partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The atlas provides a comprehensive account of the soil types and their current fertility status, native best management practices developed by the farmers of Punjab, and valuable soil fertility management strategies to guide farmers on fertilizer type, amount, timing and placement for optimal crop yields.
Mina Dawlatchahi, FAO representative to Pakistan said, “This project is an important contribution towards the eradication of hunger and food insecurity by making agriculture in Pakistan more productive, while protecting the soil through sustainable agriculture practices.”
The atlas is based on agricultural statistics, field-based assessment and data from provincial and federal departments and agencies. To complete the atlas, a series of workshops and consultations were conducted with local farmers at various locations across Punjab to gather information from growers of major crops like wheat, rice, cotton, maize, and sugarcane. The atlas will be made available to the public, and government agricultural extension workers will use the document to help farmers increase their crop yields while reducing expenses through the elimination of over-fertilization practices.