By Bilal Akram, Dr. Azher Nawaz and Dr. Mujahid Ali
(Department of Horticulture, University of Sargodha)
Pakistan is an agricultural country whose major portion of population attach with agriculture and industry based on agriculture. Agriculture contributes 24% to GDP, which is of prime importance and of great value in economic status of country. A large number of cereals, fruits and vegetables are grown which not only fulfill the needs of our country but also have a share in exports. A big share of agricultural produce including cereals, fruits and vegetable squandered by poor management throughout the year from site selection to final marketing.
Good agricultural practices not only ensure the quality of produce but also enhance the quantity by many folds. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also demand countries to adopt Global GAP certification system to ensure the health and good status of living. Most of the local farms in SAARC countries not full fill the “Basic Requirements” explained by the FAO in 2016. Only a few well established farms in Pakistan completely follow the path derived by FAO for Global GAP. Global GAP follow the way to enhance organic farming in developing countries. Major aim of Global GAP is to ensure the healthy produce production and fairly utilization of resources to entertain the consumer keeping in view the safety of both humans and environment for a safe and joyful life.
Unawareness of our farmers is a major issue of our agriculture department. Farmers save money for a small advantage in all the processes regarding seed, water, fertilizer and postharvest processes which leads to a final loss in income. Good agricultural practices include all the operations we do in production of a crop for our use. It starts from selection of site and ends on consumer, all the steps in between demand a high attention. In site selection proper soil structure and soil composition considered for good crop production. A soil free from disease, weeds, insects, heavy metals, salts and water logged conditions should be selected to achieve the good quality final harvestable yield.
Proper sowing time not only provide bumper crop but also reduces the prevalence of diseases and insects as commonly observed in wheat and rice. Besides that, we can also manage our field and can get more number of crops by proper time management. Proper and timely availability water is a way to increase our yield. Water of good quality must be use. Sewage or industrial used water not only affects the normal growth of plants but also effect the health of humans. We must water the plants when they need.
Farmers must apply insecticides and pesticides of recommended doses prior to the full infestation to control the attack of diseases and insects. Farmers can also adopt intercropping to control insect attack on a specific crop. Intercropping may also increase the annual income of farmer. Farmers can also reduce the use of insecticides by use of varieties resistant to diseases and insects. Instead of chemicals we should prefer possible biological control methods. We must make sure the control and a low use of chemicals to promote organic farming. Weeds are major problem in fields which reduces the yield by 30-45%. We must prefer mulching in vegetables and fruit farms against chemicals.
Growing of vegetables along with major cash crops in a season is a bonus crop for additional income. Hybrids and imported varieties of vegetables can give a huge profit. Proper and recommended use of fertilizers in accordance of 3Rs (Right time, Right amount and Right place) can also provide efficient and good yield. Use of farm yard manure and compost preferred on inorganic fertilizers which not only disturb the normal status of soil such as pH also some time hazardous to human health. Seasonal pruning and training practices in an orchard also plays an important role in production of bumper and good quality yield. Pruning also reduces the disease infestation by avoiding the damage of fruit by cris crossing of branches and also improves the sun light penetration in the center of plant which ensures the good quality and quantity.
At last proper and timely harvest plays an important role in farmer’s annual income. About 20-40% postharvest losses occur which is of great attention. Postharvest losses can minimize by adopting good harvesting practices and use of specialized harvesters or mechanical harvesters. Use of mechanical harvesters not only save time but also decreases the losses. Use of proper and modern control atmosphere packaging after harvesting also increase the shelf life and ensure the health of produce for a long time. Unavailability of efficient transport is still a big challenge for our agriculture produce which increases the postharvest losses in vegetables up to 10-12%. Use of refer trucks for vegetables and fruits can minimize the losses. Availability of good storage also improves the postharvest status of produce.
In the change scenario, we should pay a keen attention to our farming system by utilization of mechanization and weather forecast systems at our farms vicinity and must follow the guidelines defined by agriculture department and other research institutions.