Can crop toxicity become an emerging threat for Pakistan?

Till date it was known that climate change affects crop cultivation, either because of intense precipitation or due to prolonged droughts. The loss and stunted growth of crops was attributed mainly to extreme weather events and poor field practices.  However, the subject of crop toxicity was seldom discussed. In year 2016, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) highlighted the emerging issue of crop toxicity, which is related to accumulation of toxins and undesirable levels of micro and macro-nutrients, respectively. It is ascribed as an adaptive measure to withstand changing environmental condition. In order to investigate further, few cases of crop toxicity are discussed in the article.

The research carried out, in year 2016, on maize crops of Europe for alfatoxins’ contamination due to climate change, predicted the probability of mycotoxins occurrence as a result of increasing temperature. Even a rise of 2oC was found to be significant, in altering the scenario of contamination in crops. Similar findings have been reported in another study for maize and peanuts, respectively, at projected temperature rise of 3oC and 5oC in water stressed conditions. But how do these cases relate to current situation of Pakistan?

The economy of Pakistan is majorly dependent on agricultural sector, thus, development in this sector can play a vital role in boosting financial gains. Maiz, wheat and cotton are among the major cash crops of Pakistan. But, according to the recent studies it has been observed that these crops are most vulnerable to devastating effects of crop toxicity. This can worsen the case for Pakistan, the country which is on its way of development and is land of more than 200 million people. The inhabitants of this land are already suffering from malnutrition. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that 11% of children in Pakistan are acutely malnourished which is triggering the rate of mortality in the country. Furthermore, the Agricultural census of year 2010, reports that almost 64% of Pakistan’s population earn their livelihood from agricultural land. So, what is dire need to secure the lives and livelihood of people of Pakistan?

Documentation of policies is insufficient unless they are implemented, hence, a framework needs to be devised for management of agricultural practices. The framework should aim to equip farmers with the ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions, through capacity building and training workshops. Because poor farm practices, are also indirectly linked to crop toxicity. The framework should be reviewed and amended according to need of an hour. Furthermore, the farmers should be facilitated with better resources in terms of technological and financial incentives only then they would be able to cope with the scenario efficiently and effectively.

(Picture source: Technology Times)


Know about ‘Thunderstorms’

Whenever we feel strong wind, the next thing we get to cumulonimbus_full_size.jpgobserve is thunderstorm. What basically is a thunderstorm? As the name indicates it is a storm that causes lightening and thunder. The main reason associated to its occurrence is presence of cumulonimbus clouds which influences storm generation. These clouds are produced as a result of upward lifting of warm, and humid air.

Formation stages:

  • Cumulus Stage: As sun heats the Earth’s surface, warmer air tends to rise up leading to formation of cumulus clouds (can be referred to as precursors of cumulonimbus cloud). The uplifting of warmer air currents is thus necessary for formation of cumulonimbus. Thus, vertical growth of cumulus growth takes place. The clouds then reach a temperature which is beyond freezing level, thus aiding in generation of precipitation within clouds. The clouds after a certain time can not hold precipitation within, and the falling precipitation then cools the air residing below the clouds.
  • Mature stage: Upward and downward movement of air currents occur simultaneously during this stage which further expands the area of the clouds. The colder air, enters the clouds at this stage and further contributes to precipitation.  
  • Dissipating Stage: During this stage evaporation of clouds begin to occur. The evaporation is result of falling precipitation’s dominance. As the precipitation continues in the absence of upward lifting of moistened air currents, the structure of clouds starts collapsing. And this marks the end of thunderstorm! 

Footprint matters!

The term “carbon footprint” is often used as shorthand for the amount of carbon (usually in tonnes) being emitted by an activity or organization – Global Footprint Network.

Calculating Carbon footprint of electrical appliances:

Calculating carbon footprint is not a difficult task. If you want to calculate carbon footprint of a bulb, follow these steps:

  1. Record electrical requirements of laboratory appliances, that are: Amperes and Volts
  2. If only Amperes and Volts are mentioned, then convert it into watts using following formula:

Ampere * Volts = watts 

3.For calculating watts-hours consumed on daily basis, use following mode:

Watts * hours = watt-hours per day

4.Convert watts into kilowatts-hours per day ,in order to calculate tonnage Carbon dioxide, convert watts into kilowatts-hours per day:

Watt-hours per day/ 1000 = KWh per day

1 kilowatt is equal to 1000 watts, so we divided watts by 1000.

5. To find out how monthly electrical consumption, first record number of days during which equipment is used, then multiply that with kilowatt-hours per day:

Kilowatt-hours per day * days = kWh per month

6. To find out Carbon dioxide emissions in metric tons, the team used an online calculator Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator designed by Environmental Protection Agency. It uses simple means for calculating Carbon footprint, once you enter data in form of kilowatt-hours of electricity it converts it to Carbon dioxide emission in metric tons.


If I calculate carbon foot print of this bulb, assuming its usage as 7 hours daily, using the above mentioned steps :

25 * 7= 175 watts-hours per day

175/1000 = 0.175 kWh/day

Converting into Carbon dioxide in metric tons, using EPA Calculator, the result comes out to be:



Actions speak louder than words.

  1. Community Visit for Data Collection:

On 26th July 2016, Team Emblem of Change visited Committee Chowk area in Day 1 of their Field Visit for Community Work to pursue their project “Save or Crave”. “Save or Crave” is a Water Conservation, Surveying and Remediation Project as part of Community Work of Team Emblem of Change in the Eco Internship Program 2016 at WWF. The Committee Chowk area was chosen particularly for its problem of water supply; water scarcity and water impurity.

On the allotted day, the team’s visit began at 11 am spanning till 3.30 pm. In order to facilitate the team’s movements and visit to various households in the commune, Emblem of Change took help from the very supportive and active lady known as ‘Naano Jaan’ in the neighborhood. Through the influence of Naano Jaan, Emblem of Change was able to visit numerous houses, getting the questionnaires filled and inquiring about water problems and water supply conditions in the neighborhood. (Report by Fatima Ali)

2. Daily stories

“Kuch hamari ghalti hai or kuch hakoomat ki. Hum kehty hain k paani ganda aa raha hai, or yeh nahi daikhty keh hmary pipe kitny kharab hain.13754176_1060244864044454_6315549245473263322_n

Par main apko aik or baat btaon, hamari behnain guliyan bohat dhoti hain.”
“We, ourselves, and government are equally responsible for water scarcity. We blame government for contaminated water, but we often forget that our own pipelines are rusted.

And let me tell you one more thing! Women here, frequently, wash streets”.
-Resident of Committee Chowk

3. Water Conservation Awareness Session

Team Emblem of Change was then ready to conduct awareness sessions in community of Committee Chowk.13871716_583183181858816_98786364_n Findings of the survey illustrated that water scarcity, in terms of quality and quantity, was a major problem in the community. On August 1st, 2016, the team visited the community to conduct first session in order to make people aware about the factors governing water scarcity and the role they can play to solve this global & shared problem. As, women play critical role for regulation of water resources, the team aimed at spreading awareness among women. So that the information would pass on to next generations as well. The team, on the basis of survey, briefed women through presentation about the measures that can help in solving water crisis. The presentation was easily comprehend able and was prepared in local language. Also, an entirely new concept, for the community, was introduced in the community for ‘water conservation’, which was ‘rain water harvesting’. People of the community had no prior awareness about utilization of rain water, so team demonstrated it with the simplest model. Residents were interested in finding out more about benefits of Rainwater Harvesting (by Zarmina Khan)

4. Daily Challenge:

On August 8th, 2016: Team decided to start series of daily challenge to test the knowledge of audience regarding significance of water, water quality parameters and ways to conserve water. Questions were decided to be asked, and the first person to respond correctly, would gain points. At the end of the day, winner were to be announced. First question to be asked was: Which two elements combine to make up water molecule? Post received 8 likes with 2 responses. Eventually, number of responses for next questions got increased.blog1.png

5. Daily Inspiration

Social media plays vital role in engaging individuals, communities and organizations. So the team decided  to share thoughts and opinions of people regarding significance of water as a resource, and consequences which would be faced by inhabitants of planet EARTH in case of water scarcity. One of our follower shared following message:


Project Water: Save or Crave

Water sustains life. Almost all sectors of a country which contribute towards development, require water. Management of water supply systems in Pakistan is of immense importance, because economy of Pakistan is highly dependent on agriculture. Nearly, 97 % of available water in Pakistan is being consumed for agriculture, while only 3 % is available for industrial and domestic usage (Bashir, 2011). Also, increasing population and enhancing concerns for developmental projects demand excess of water. According to Pakistan Statistical Book (2007), Pakistan is among water stressed countries with 1000 cubic meter per capita availability of water, which has been declared as a threshold by United Nations Water Needs Report. Changing weather patterns, low rate of precipitation in climate of intense water supply demand has been aggravating the issue of water crisis.

Rawalpindi is one among the most populous cities of Pakistan. Residents of Rawalpindi depend on nearby dams to fulfill their water related needs. Most notable is Rawal dam, adjoining Rawal Lake, located in federal capital of Pakistan. Rawal dam, having an area of 106 sq miles is, thus, the major catchment area for residents of twin cities (PEPA, 2004). In spite of generating 84, 000 acre feet of water, supply is not sufficient for the residents. People tend to rely on poor sanitation, and unhygienic water for domestic usage. Keeping, this scenario in mind team ‘Emblem of Change’ initiated Project Water: Save or Crave.

Objectives of project:

Following are the objectives defined for the project:

  1. Field survey to identify the water related problems faced by residents of Committee Mohalla.
  2. Investigate residents’ complaints regarding provision of pure drinking water.
  3. Analysis of water consumption status of the residents.
  4. Brief residents about water conservation measures at house-hold level.
  5. Develop sustainable plan to solve water crisis in longer run.

Scope of the project:

The project includes:

  1. Analysis of water demands of residents of Committee Mohalla.
  2. Details of water usage and awareness residents have regarding water conservation practices at house-hold level.
  3. Questionnaire and interviews for survey.

Limitations of the study:

Following are the limitations of current project:

  1. It does not cover details of all houses of Committee Mohalla.
  2. In addition to that, findings illustrate the responses of females.

Protection of our Cultural Heritage.

Civilizations leave their footprints in the form of cultural heritage. Many of the historical occasions, battles, and life styles, are preserved, in the form of artifacts and archeological sites. These objects and places symbolize the process of development, which has occurred throughout generations. We, the humans, have come to know about different fields associated to life by learning through cultural heritage. If it had not remain intact, we could have been so ignorant, and unfamiliar with the things, such as education, medicine, battle strategies etc., that have made human survival possible. Utility of it has made advancement possible. Discoveries, and innovations are nothing but perks of it. For this reason, it bears an immense importance and therefore requires immediate conservation measures.

11Pakistan is bestowed with diversity, not only in terms of seasons but also culture. Being a signatory of Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, it is an obligation to make efforts for protecting the legacy, by considering it as a right of future generations. The Convention was originally adopted in 1972, by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), while Pakistan ratified it in 1976. It aims to ensure the implementations of measures that can promote the protection of heritage sites, through technical and financial support. Different classifications, such as monuments, natural sites, buildings and geological landscapes have been defined as natural and cultural according to first article of the Convention. It also elaborates about the features and conditions required for addition or removal of sites, or to extend or restrict the boundaries of sites in World Heritage List. Furthermore, it explains about the source of financial assistance, World Heritage Fund that has to be provided to countries who are contributors to the list.

According to UNESCO,12 currently Pakistan’s six cultural sites are enlisted in the list which include Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro, Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighboring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol, Fort and Shalamar Garden in Lahore, Historical Monuments at Makli, Rohtas Fort, and Taxila, while 18 sites are part of Tentative List. Nomination and selection of sites for the list is not an easy process. World Heritage Committee has devised ‘Operational Guidelines for Implementation of World Heritage Convention’. Based on those guidelines sites are selected and are made part of the list. 

Despite the measures regulated by UNESCO’s assistance, cultural and natural heritage of Pakistan is disappearing at consistent rate. The cause of such loss is that all of the heritage sites in Pakistan are not well-protected, except for above six. They are impacted by natural as well as anthropogenic reasons. As Pakistan is vulnerable to natural hazards such as floods, intense rain, and earthquakes so most of the ancient building, temples, palaces that are not well-managed suffer. Similarly, developmental projects often result in demolishing some major buildings of historical value. Another reason can be the element of poverty. For example, even in Taxila though it is one among the World Heritage List, still it is not secured. Believing that these ancient sites can be rich resource of treasure, people have been destroying the notable sculptures and stupas. Security issues, such as terrorism, within territory also trigger the loss for example the attack of June 2013, on Jinnah’s residency in Ziarat by militants of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). It not only burnt the building, but also the belongings of Founder of Pakistan.

At the time of partition, in 1947, Pakistan was not in position to formulate a proper new act of its own so it adopted Ancient Monuments Preservation Act (AMP), 1904 but later on in 1968 it designed Antiquities Act. It did not completely abhorred previous Act as it comprised of parts of AMP in adapted form. According to this act, buildings that were older than 1957 were regarded as ancient. Also, it gave authority to federal government to act as custodian of antiquities and buildings. The act was then amended in 1975. It then elaborated the issues regarding possession and transport of antiquities. Same act was later amended in 1992 and ultimately in 2012. Currently, as per 2012 amendment the provisions of the Act apply to Punjab only.  As a result of Eighteenth Amendment of Constitution of Pakistan, powers were devolved among provinces so every province was considered responsible to protect its heritage sites. But still the status of management of such sites by provincial governments is questionable.

Research projects being carried out by different organizations are helping to promote knowledge about importance of culture, arts, history and development. For example Center for Culture and Development is playing a leading role in Punjab. Some of its important projects include, restoration, improvisation and promotion of Pakistan Railway Heritage Museum, Golra, Islamabad, Heritage Mapping of Rawalpindi, and Digital Documentation of Sheikhupura Fort. Similarly, Heritage Foundation of Pakistan is active in Karachi, while cultural departments of Khyber Pakhtoon Khwah and Balochistan are striving to secure their historical remains.

Recently World Bank has also come into play to promote the protection of religious sites. It is believed that religious tourism can boost up the economy of the state, so religious institutions, such as temples, Gurwaras, and mosques shall be given top priority while managing cultural sites. These institutions attract pilgrims from all over the world, and Pakistan is endowed with such a vast versatility. According to one of the news report, of The Nation, World Bank aims to initiate a project worth of 60 million dollar to facilitate pilgrims’ visit in Pakistan.

Culture is now being regarded as fourth pillar of sustainable development. So, emphasis needs to be made towards preserving and safeguarding this important component before it is too late. Though different legislations, acts and rules do exist in Pakistan for cultural heritage but these all shall be revised and updated on regular basis. Engaging youth by making them learn about their heritage through curriculum can play an effective part. Awareness campaigns and capacity building workshops can help in training the people to adopt conservation measures. Regardless of the roles that governmental and non-governmental organizations are playing to secure the historical value, the power of common man cannot be underestimated. Strategies in legislation should be so incorporated that people recognize ‘they are entrusted with a task of securing identity-of their nation and state’.