Published On: Mon, Nov 17th, 2014

Dried freshwater sources force farmers to cultivate crops on sewage in Balochistan


Malik Achakzai

QUETTA : Talib Aka lived in Balochistan’s, the militancy stuck province’s Killa Abdullah district. He and his fellow villagers had enough cultivated land before the two decades long drought spread in the region. Ancient Karez system—a traditional way of gravitational watering channels almost dried around the province. And the annual rain and snow fall decreased. Before this the green fields and orchards were watered through these water channels.

Talib Aka had nothing to live up on anymore. His economy was linked to his farming fields which dried during the long drought era. That’s why he turned to the capital city of the province and now uses contaminated sewerage water to cultivate a bigger piece of land in the middle of the city.

IMG_3197 “We used to cultivate a larger piece of land. Most of our orchards and fields were watered through Karez [gravitational water channels]. Now no water flow through those channels. Everything we used to sew or cultivate dried completely”, says Talib Aka with some daily wage laborers, busy in packing cauliflowers in crates.

The cultivated vegetables with sewerage water are sold on vegetables shops in the city and at the same time transported to different cities of the province.

“The people belonging to our area abandoned their villages and are now settled in Quetta. I didn’t know to open another business so I continued my farming with this contaminated water. We lack fresh waters and sewerage water is an approachable alternate. ”

The normal rain fall disturbed during drought years. Sometimes it went to the peak and mostly it rained with a lesser volume during last “droughty decades” told Saif Ullah Shami Director, Regional Meteorological Centre at Quetta.

“Now the yearly snow and rain fall has come again to be normal, this cycles in every 30 years and causes a misbalance in natural cycles”, says Saif Ullah Shami.

“Temperature is raised 2.5 degrees to 3.5 degrees globally, the same happens in Balochistan.”


Climate change has affected Quetta and some others cities on micro level means only pollution, manmade disturbance of environment are its causes. Even now if someone moves out from the city, he/she would feel a change of cooler breezes. Bigger population size, urbanization, A/C, cars and other machinery usage are causing pollution in the air and higher buildings in the city area are the reasons of temperature rise, he adds further.

“Temperature rise differs across the province. Quetta temperature has grown up to 2.5 degrees”, says Shami.

Earlier statistics shows Balochistan had 2 million hectors cultivated land. Fresher figures are raised to 2.6 million hectors. That’s a bigger achievement toward cultivation and we can say agriculture is not shrinking but its expanding, Abdul Rahman Buzdar, provincial agriculture secretary told.

“Orchards dried in drought era. But our farmers placed them with grapes, pomegranate, pistachio and almond trees. These trees need lesser waters than orchards needed. Our farmers have evolved their agro planning and they have dug holes in their lands to squeeze water from below earth surface”, says Buzdar.
Electricity shortages and drought causes shrinkage in Balochistan’s agriculture. People from the smaller villages now migrate to cities.


The sewerage water can be recycled to use for agro purposes. The farmers of Balochistan are yet to wait for the installation of sewerage recycling plants in these urban centers.

Balochistan government needs proper planning to store annual rain water. Therefore, a vast net of small, medium and larger dams is need of the time, told Muhammad Dauran Khan, an assistant director in the Balochistan provincial Irrigation and Power Department.


“Building dam and storing yearly rainfall water can maintain underground water level. Once we go to our normal yearly rain and snow fall. The ancient watering system of Karez would once again become functional for irrigation and cultivation purposes”, says Dauran Khan.

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