Seminar on ‘Advances in ecophysiology of salt tolerance’ – ‘Cultivating halophytes can help strengthen country’s economy’

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KARACHI – The successful experiments of growing halophytes in the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan will not only help strengthen the country’s economy, but also create job opportunities for the under-privileged people of these areas, University of Karachi (KU) Vice Chancellor Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui said on Monday.
“Pakistan is an agro-based economy, and issues specifically salinity is putting negative impact on crop cultivation,” he added. He was addressing a seminar on ‘Advances in ecophysiology of salt tolerance’, organised by the Institute of Sustainable Halophyte Utilisation (ISHU).
Halophytes are plants which tolerate or even demand sodium chloride concentrations in the soil water they absorb. Depending on the habitat conditions they have developed different strategies to survive in sometimes very high salt content in the soil water. Dr Siddiqui said that KU scientists and foreign agriculturalists are conducting research to overcome issues of salinity and shortage of sweet water.
“Salt tolerance is among the major global problems in crop cultivation and there is a need to address this issue by adopting an effective strategy by utilising techniques and conducted research,” he added.
Like other countries, Pakistan is also conducting research on making barren lands cultivatable and KU scientists are playing a pivotal role to make this possible.
The KU vice chancellor said that the ISHU conducted successful experiments of crop cultivation with saline water in the coastal areas of Balochistan. “Pakistan is an agricultural country but farmers are not aware of the latest technology and techniques of agri-business due to which they have failed to collect their due share from the final outcome,” he said.
Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST) Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Qaiser said that a major portion of our lands is facing the problem of salinity and production and the identification of sustainable halophytes has become the need of the hour. Prof Dr Ajmal Khan said that 450 species of sustainable halophytes have so far been identified in Pakistan and the ISUH’s efforts would prove beneficial in wake of sweet water shortage.
Prof Dr Ikramul Haq was of the view that if we shift the trend of crop cultivation to bio-fuel productivity, the country will face problems like other developing countries across the globe. Prof Dr Darakhshan Haleem said that the world has become global village and if we fail to keep a balance between food and energy supply and demand, we would be unable to come at par with the developed world.