Low carbon agriculture production

Altogether, there has been an enhancing concern and requirement for direction and management on environmental encounters and how to integrate social and economic issues in sustainability approaches and impact evaluations not only in the public but also the private sector. There has been a debate over two decades regarding corporate responsibility, that industries should follow low carbon pathways.

By the same token, Paris agreement initiated by the united nation framework convention on climate change which aimed to devise a unanimous strategy to mitigate and adopt greenhouse gas emissions. Pakistan like other countries, is now obliged to keep its global warming potential under the defined threshold of 2 centigrade as Pakistan has endorse the agreement as 104th country. Moreover Paris agreement can play a crucial role in achieving sustainable development goals for upcoming years. In the same context, Marrakesh conference on climate change which anticipates to carry out vital and real time measures to aid inclusive execution of the Paris agreement. In this regard 100 billion dollar fund has been announced under Paris agreement. If dealt with strategies like life cycle assessment and carbon footprint accounting, the main crust of the Paris agreement can be addressed easily

Since sugar cane is the most significant crop in Pakistan with cultivated area of 1,149,929 hectare, its contribution in greenhouse gas emissions particularly emissions from postharvest burning of cane is an important issue. Likewise Sugar industry of Pakistan is one of the biggest industrial sector. The business utilizes roughly 10 million individuals in cane generation and processing, furthermore gives employments in various relevant enterprises, for example, in transportation, organic and inorganic chemicals and fertilizer production. It is the second biggest agriculture based industry with 84 mills yearly pulverizing limit of more than 60 million tones. The industry is creating million tons of sugar prompting around 5.58 m tons during crushing period of 180 days with sucrose content of 10% with 85% effectiveness while 6.57 million tons of sugar with 100% proficiency, involving 84 factories, 46 in the region of Punjab, 32 in Sindh, 7 in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and one in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

However, Sugar production in Pakistan is experiencing many problems as we are getting expensive sugar with low yield coupled with less average recovery as compared to the world. In this regard, farmers and mill owners have different stance. According to the farmers, delaying in crushing season, buying cane at less price, weight differences and policies or priorities of mill owners is the actual reason behind this. On the other hand, mill owners claim that farmers grow substandard and unapproved varieties of cane which has very low sucrose content that’s why cane with low sucrose content leads to the low sugar yield per ton of the cane. Sugar governance system in Pakistan is developed on the basis of its economic and marketing aspects without the incorporation of sustainable and ecological aspects. With time such a large and unchecked growth has led to the poor management of sugar both in terms of environment and economic aspect.

Globally, 25 percent of carbon emissions are coming from agriculture sector. Likewise, in Pakistan almost 20 percent of the total carbon emissions are coming from the agriculture sector. And this 20 percent are mainly due to relying on the bad practices in agriculture especially in sugar cane production. It is necessary to devise environmentally sustainable and balance approach for the production of sugar.

Planning phase of any project is the most important phase. That’s why to initiate a project by incorporating its environmental factors into planning phase will address most of the problems before they appear. In this regard integration of Life cycle assessment methodology and strategic impact assessment to the planning phase will recognize major hotspots.

For instance, Per acre of cane cultivation requires 160 kg of urea, 120 kg of DAP, 80 kg of potash and a considerable amount of NPK. Production and use of these fertilizers adds to the climate change and fossil fuel depletion. Reduction in their amount will pay a positive impact to overall environment.

Sugar production can be a zero waste process if its all co-products and by- products are utilized wisely. From agricultural stage postharvest residues including dry leaves and from milling stage, bagasse, filter mud and ash and sludge all these can be used to produce organic compost.

Biomass burning within the premises of the mill that is burning of the bagasse in boilers have a shortcoming of particulate emissions. However release of these particulate matter can be considerably abridged with dust filters installation maximizing burning proficiency.

Dealing this hotspot by substituting the green harvest system, which includes mixing of the cane residues with animal dung and compost can make the huge difference. Reduction in CF through pragmatic shift of the orthodox sugar production to the efficient systems can actually bring the economic stability and long term sustainability of sugar production

These suggestions can aid decision makers in taking decisions and additional research is exceedingly suggested to incorporate social and economic parts of the society. Mostly policy makers and stakeholders depend on the economic feasibility reports which usually do not incorporate environmental and social parts of the society, so decision makers should integrate environmental parts too.

However, practicable set of the guidelines can minimize the carbon footprint of the sugar industry. Energy provided by the fossil fuels must be restricted and confined in order to reduce the carbon footprints. Pre-eminent measures to attain this objective is by means of containing the energy demands which is linked with GHG emissions, upgrading energy optimization strategies and enhancing energy efficient ways would serve the purpose.

Criteria must be standardized for employing generators and boilers in the industry. They must be expeditious in fulfilling energy requirements while discharging minimum emissions of GHG. In contemporary world, at times, usage of green and clean technology is much viable option as compared to pondering on solutions to eliminate emissions of greenhouse gas.

The operative and functional use of safe and clean technology will not only captivate the producers and suppliers around the globe especially under developed countries to ensure their credibility in the international market but also ensures the proper follow up of prevalent environmental rules and legislations. By keeping technology in accordance with environmental obligations, they will keep up with internationally and regionally standards of environment. Therefore dire need is to transform the production by keeping in mind the environmental aftermaths.

The theory of offsetting the carbon footprints can be implemented in industry which surely minimizes the GHG emissions drastically. Remodeling the production mechanism using those generators and boilers incorporating catalytic converters or by some other means to attenuate the emissions.

In contemporary modern world of perpetual acceleration of energy demand, drastic cutoff of energy at industrial level could not be attained. Picture cleanliest environment, surely it would be one free from energy hazardous impacts but practically its not possible. So in circumstances where emissions are unavoidable, there comes idea of offsetting the emissions. This idea can be contextualized by exercising roadmaps which helps environment. One of them could be plantation on massive scale. These offsetting schemes could indemnify.


The writer is an environmentalist.


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