Utilization of halophytes as non-conventional crops for arid saline lands is best alternate, Prof. Dr. Liu

Karachi, January 08, 2019 (PPI-OT): The utilization of halophytes as non-conventional crops for arid saline lands holds immense potential to ensure food security in future, Professor Dr Xiaojing Liu of Chinese Academy of Sciences, expressed while speaking at the second day of the three-day long international conference on ‘Sustainable Development: Halophytes for Green Revolution’.

The Institute of Sustainable Halophyte Utilization (ISHU) of the University of Karachi (KU), has organized second international conference at the Karachi University Business School (KUBS), KU, which is scheduled from January 07 to 09.

Professor Dr Xiaojing Liu informed that the audience about the research of his group that can improve crop productivity and minimize that salt build up following salty water irrigation. He stressed on research-based amendments in soil structure and chemical composition that can prevent degradation of soil.

Prof. Dr. Todd Egan from USA highlighted that salinization of lands is one of the major impediments for conventional agriculture especially in the arid and semiarid regions of the world. Lack of rain and high summer temperatures can further aggravate the situation in these areas. Most of our conventional crops are salt-sensitive and can’t endure even low levels of soil salinity. Hence, there is dire need for innovative approaches to overcome aforementioned problems. He said that his team has prepared a “superabsorbent” that can retain about 90% of the soil moisture and essential nutrients, a pre-requisite for long-term crop productivity. Use of such material can be of immense aid for high saline agriculture.

Prof. Dr. Hans Werner Koyro from the Giessen University, Germany delivered lecture about global climate changes and use of biochar as a potential remedy to minimize harmful impacts of climate change on plants. He said anthropogenic activities have accelerated the global climate changes which are evident worldwide in form of weather anomalies, drought spells, floods and tsunamis.

These conditions also impact crop productivity, which is contrary to our increasing needs for food. Use of “Biochar” can be of one of the solutions for enhancing productivity of our agricultural lands, he said. Biochar can sequester sodium and heavy metals, which are toxic for plants. Hence, use of biochar can play an important role in cultivation of halophytes as non-conventional crops on saline lands in sustainable way.

Dr. Irfan Khan, Professor of the Environmental Sciences, Islamic University, Islamabad presented his views about use of halophytes for the success of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly of SDG-2, which aims to eliminate hunger from the world. Halophyte cultivation as non-conventional crops is also in accordance with Pakistan’s National Sustainable Development Policy, he said. He stressed on the fact that generally there is a gap between policy-making bodies and academia, which has to be bridged in order to make these policies successful. He also praised the organizers for holding the conference and declared it the need of the time.

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