Poverty and malnutrition are the most serious issues in Tharparkar. The economy of the majority of the population depends on agriculture and livestock. Cultivation depends on the rain that falls only in the monsoon season. For the rest of the year, there is no agricultural activity in Thar and the peasants have to work over the irrigated land that is far from their homes where they could find labour.
Tharparkar is a fertile desert if its land gets adequate water. Multiple crops can be cultivated here in a year. This can help eliminate poverty and malnutrition of the people.
Dua Foundation is an NGO to introduce the Dua Agrofarms project in order to make use of the subsoil water for cultivation in the tehsils of Kaloi, Diplo, Nagarparkar and Dahli.
In 2014, Dua Foundation installed a tube-well on ten acres of arid land of a local peasant in Tehsil Kaloi through which he successfully cultivated mustard crop.
So far, 28 agrofarms in different villages of the desert tehsils of Thar have been set up through which more than 250 acres of barren land has been made arable and cultivable. The local peasants are growing wheat, cotton, mustard, onions and some other crops in these farms. Different types of fodder such as Lucerne, Rhodes Grass and Jantar (Sesbania) have also been grown.
In Kaloi and Diplo tehsils, tube-wells have been installed and a storage tank has been constructed. In Nagarparkar, a huge well of 18-20 feet diameter has been made and a storage tank built along side. A diesel generator and suction pump are also required to supply water.
Dua Fruit Farm
Tharparkar- a Desert spread over 20000 km2 has hardly any fruit tree. It seems impossible but if travel throughout the desert then it becomes reality that there are hardly any fruit yielding trees. Dua Foundation last month embarked upon a rare project almost nonexistent in Tharparkar desert which has been named first ever fruit farm of its kind in the area
Thar residents largely believed that date trees cannot grow and flourish. Dua Foundation has since planted no of date trees which are being watered through sprinkler system. Total of 600 trees have since been planted on the land provided by a school teacher, Mr Shahabuddin Samejo. After 2.5 hours drive from Umarkot, this farm is situated in Tahsil Dahli, Village Sakhi Siar.
Initially watering has been economized by installing Drip Irrigation System whereas plantation on 2 acres is being irrigated through Sprinkler System
Hopefully more than 2000 creepers already planted shall soon fetch plenty of vegetables which would eventually distributed amongst the residents of the village Sakhi Siar
Majority of village residents living below party levels with too meagre means to cope up with basic requirement of life.
Dr Ataullah Khan of Arid Zone Research Institute is currently supervising by extending full technical help and assistance. If plantation of date, olives, pomegranate and figs trees succeeds then it would be a major step towards alleviating poverty and malnutrition for the peasants.Through sprinkler system it’s being planned to sow Fennel seeds as well as peanuts and in this context it’s also planned to install further drip irrigation system.
Dua Agro and Fruit Farm may prove to be game changer if Federal and Provincial Governments evince interest in these projects by adequately subsidising and compensating the costs thus incurred. Although Government of Sindh is subsidising upto 60% of the costs but most of the NGOS as well as local residents are unaware of it. Dua Foundation has already approached Department of Agriculture, Government of Sindh for the purpose. Besides local residents are being apprised of it. They have evinced great interest in benefiting from this facility.