Better Management Practices (BMPs)might be the only way to preserve the scarce resources of Pakistan, which will not only reduce negative externalities, but also increase returns from the cotton crop. BMPs include soil management (sustainable land cultivation practices), nutrient management (reduced and efficient use of fertilizers), pest management (reduced and efficient use of pesticides), and efficient irrigation management. These practices promise that the cotton crop will be grown sustainably with minimum threat to the environment. While implementing BMPs would require a greater financial support system, in the long term, it has the potential for sustainability of humans, a preservation of natural resources, and a reduction of poverty in small scale farmers.
This article will review use of BMPs in Bahawalpur, Multan, Muzaffargarh, and Jhang. 150,000 cotton farmers were involved for the use of BMPs. They were taught and recommended to use:
- Soil management through minimum tillage practices
- Laser land leveling
- Intercultural practices
- Multi-bed planter and drill for cottonseed sowing
- Ridger for weeding
- Soil testing and application of fertilizer rationally in accordance
- Justified use of pesticides which dictates that pest scouting should be carried out regularly and sprayed only once
- Cleaning of water channels
- Efficient sowing techniques to reduce water losses
Following these methods, farmers were able to achieve considerable positive impact.
- Water usage was reduced by 13%, 22%, 9%, and 10% in Bahawalpur, Multan, Muzaffargarh and Jhang respectively.
- Despite using minimum inorganic fertilizers and pesticides and lesser water, adopters of BMPs received average cotton yield of 855 kg/acre in comparison non-adopters’ 751 kg/acre.
- Non-adopters of BMPs faced significantly higher costs: 15-30% in Jhang and 10-20% in Multan. Costs in Bahawalpur and Muzaffargarh were similar.
- In terms of financial gains, adopters of BMPs received an average net profit of Rs. 40,785 in comparison to non-adopter’s Rs. 29,979 – A 36% increase in profits of adopters.
Through these success stories, it is concluded that farmers who employed BMPs were able to practice sustainable agriculture which not just protects the environment and natural resources, but also results in greater returns from the cotton crop.