BAHAWALPUR  -  The Department of Cholistan Institute of Desert Studies, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur (IUB) has successfully established multi-cropping system of “sesame (till) and jujube (Ber)” under drip and sprinkler irrigation method powered by solar energy in sandy alkaline soil. The Assistant Professor, Dr. Muhammad Shahid Rizwan is working on a project funded by Higher Education Commission-Pakistan on diversifying the cropping system of Cholistan by integrating soil and water management practices. 

According to the spokesman of the university Shahzad Ahmad Khalid, the Cholistan is a vast sandy desert spread over about 26,000 km2. The sandy alkaline natured soil, harsh weather, heat and drought stress, underground saline water, and low organic matter are the main environmental problems of Cholistan and limiting agricultural production in this region. 

Food security has a major issue due to continuous increase in population. During 2020, about 2.748 million tons edible oil of value Rs 321.535 billion was imported. While, our local production of edible oil during 2019-20 was estimated at 0.507 million tonnes. Total availability of edible oil from all sources is provisionally estimated at 3.255 million tonnes. 

There is dire need to conserve sandy textural soils by adopting various socio-economical soil conservation techniques to get maximum income by cultivation of drought and salinity tolerant crops-plants species that will definitely contribute towards improvement of living standard and income of Southern Punjab. 

Sesame is survivor crop with ability to drought-tolerant and disease resistant and having ability to grow and provided high yield where most crops fails. Dr. Muhammad Shahid told that by utilizing innovative water saving techniques and irrigation management practices we can produce better oil seeds and agronomic crops with fruits culture to fulfill the country food demands that are less water demanding or able to withstand deficit irrigation with minimum impact on crops-plants yield and quality under desert environment. 

So, cultivation in barren desert lands may contribute to meet country’s requirement by reducing pressure on imports. Engr. Prof. Dr. Athar Mahboob, Vice Chancellor and Director Cholistan Institute of Desert Studies Prof. Dr. Shazia Anjum appreciated and encouraged the Scientists for adaptation and launching of market based practical technology and briefly explained that such type of innovative projects and research activities facilitating the farmers of Southern Punjab.