Inspiring stories from the cotton fields in Pakistan
In Pakistan alone, around 40,000 farmers now use more sustainable farming practices thanks to WWF and IKEA. Many of them see life-changing results and have great stories to tell – like Muhammat Ramzan, who now can afford to send his children to school.
Now my children can go back to school
“My name is Muhammad Ramzan and I am from Yazman in Punjab. I have a 15-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. They stopped going to school after a bad year when my crop yield dipped. I own five sandy acres. There is no canal water available for irrigation, and the water table is deep, below 400 feet. This makes it expensive to pull out of the ground. I used to grow cotton on flat ground, which meant that I needed as much as three hours of continuous irrigation per acre. I was getting desperate, and was considering switching to less water intensive crops. Then the WWF team, with support from IKEA, started work in our village with a door-to-door advisory service. The facilitator advised me to start sowing in furrows and ridges rather than on flat ground. I was reluctant, as this was a new technique to me, but decided to try it. That was a turning point in my cotton growing history. One acre of cotton could now be fully irrigated in only 1.5 hours. This means that the farm’s irrigation efficiency has now doubled. I save time and money, and this means that my children can go back to school.”
I learned to manage my expenses
“My name is Allah Nawaz and I live in 101 DNB Yazman, Bahawalpur. I own three acres of land where I have grown cotton for the last 20 years. I only started keeping track of my agricultural expenses and income four years ago, although I always did so for my grocery shop business. My farming expenses were so haphazard that I was unable to manage them, and sometimes I’d realise I was losing money. Eventually I was ready to abandon farming altogether and just focus on my grocery shop. Then WWF Pakistan introduced me to farming record books. It caught my interest and I kept track throughout that growing season. I was simply amazed to know that how haphazard I was in my expense management. Today, all my farm management activities are more organised. I can better visualise where to cut expenses without affecting the yield. My daughter, who started going to school thanks to the Decent Work Committee, now helps me maintain the records.
Farmers now use less chemicals
My name is Malik Mohammad Ismail Channar and I live in Khanka Sharif, Bahawalpur. I am the president of Rural Sustainable Development Organisation (RSDO), one of the producer organisations started by WWF Pakistan. The IKEA and WWF cotton project here strengthens producer organisations at grass root level and have introduced some key initiatives.
A Commodity Exchange Program in collaboration with Woman Credit and Development (CWCD) has proved to be a financial turning point for my organisation, in two ways. This program benefitted us in two ways. Firstly, we receive money in advance that we use for cultivation, and pay back with the commodity we’ve cultivated. Secondly, it has removed the need for non-formal credit facilitation – we no longer need the middle man. I am so happy to share that we got business worth Rs.22.2 million in the pilot phase of this program.
In another important initiative, we received bags of organic compost for farmers from Lahore Compost, which helped to reduce farmers’ reliance on expensive synthetic fertilisers. WWF Pakistan has also trained us in making botanical pesticides to fight cotton sucking pests in a safer way, and I’m proud to share that we sold – at a nominal price – this botanical pesticide to more than 5,000 farmers using it on 7,000 hectares during the pilot phase. Farmers were then trained by us to make the botanical pesticide themselves. This practice significantly reduced the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides that can harm the environment and affect farmers’ health.
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