Agriculture is the largest sector of Pakistan’s economy as it contributes 24 per cent to the GDP and provides employment to half of the labour force. On top of that, it is the largest source of foreign exchange earnings. In this modern era, to further grow in this sector, it is important to facilitate farmers with the provision of modern machinery which can also be used for the disposal of crop residuals. The paddy residue which is leaves, straw and husks left after harvesting is usually burnt, causing air pollution. The government of Pakistan is working towards promoting pollution-free agriculture and providing awareness to the farmers.
Last year, the amount of residue burnt was greater as compared to 2022. Around 3,224 cases of setting fire to the residue were reported last year and this year, only 2269 cases were reported. The improvement was also seen when last year the incidents of paddy burning were on 11,619 acres of land but this year, the burning was done on 8733 acres of land. The farmers need to be educated about pollution and its long-term impacts on the economy, food and population. Around 702 FIRs were registered against people who were involved in burning the rice residues. Agriculture pollution can add toxic to freshwater which results in damaging marine ecosystems. The burning of residue also pollutes the air quality and Pakistan already ranks highest in the worst air quality globally. Moreover, the damage to the soil and fertile land disrupts the food quality and impacts the health of people and wildlife. Hence, it is important to promote pollution-free agriculture to reduce adverse impacts.
The government is already working on spreading awareness among farmers as the agriculture sector has set up 18000 village volunteer committees to create awareness. Social media platforms can be used to spread awareness and methods to reduce pollution. Government must also impose fines on those people who ignite fires to paddy residues. Surveys must be conducted in different areas to examine the amount of arsenic or contaminated water and ensure the availability of clean water. Due to agricultural pollution, the intensity of smog has also increased. By using modern machines, such problems can be reduced. Technology and modern machinery such as centrifuges can reduce the amount of solids in wastewater, thereby reducing water pollution. Catalytic converters on engine exhaust systems can reduce air pollution. Solar power heating and cooling systems can be used to reduce the consumption of fuel. Eco-friendly smart farming technology can be adopted in Pakistan to minimize agricultural pollution.