It has been reported that 40% of children under 5 are underweight in Pakistan and over half the children are affected by stunting and about 9% by wasting (National Nutritional Survey (2011)). Malnutrition constrains economic growth and national progress: an estimated half the nation (49.6 per cent) is growing up stunted, unable to reach their full physical and mental potential, while the adult half is too weak to contribute fully to the country’s production efforts. The World Health Organization cites malnutrition as the single greatest threat to public health, and a significant factor in maternal and child mortality, killing six million children each year in Pakistan. A 2006 survey estimated that 58 per cent or over 36 million died of causes linked to malnutrition.
Several factors contribute to this condition. Inadequate water supply and the continuation of outdated farming methods are major causes for all Pakistan. However for coastal communities reliance on fishing, itself a threatened profession for food and income, has led to increasing levels of food shortage in coastal belt. Rising costs of agriculture, as water and other agro-products, seed, fertilizer etc. become more expensive, has meant that poverty-ridden families are unable to manage and have slowly stopped utilising arable land.
There is a need for small-scale projects, which do not require large investments and can be cheaply sustained. IET projects are aimed at subsistence farmers and cultivation at the home. These projects harness local resources (e.g. saline water) and the latest research in agriculture methods and development technologies to plan suitable interventions. By taking current climatic conditions into account, these means are able to provide a steady source of food, enabling long-term food security. IET looks at both human and animal feed in its area of interventions
Salinity is an important problem affecting irrigated agriculture of Pakistan. Improper irrigation practice and lack of drainage have generally led to accumulation of salt in the soil in concentrations, which are harmful to crop. IET has researched what the most effective crops may be used in saline ground and is working on pilot projects.
Organic Farming (needs improvement)
Many farmers are now using traditional fertiliser systems and not the hybrid farming techniques. Ordinary compost is being cultivated. Farmers can see their land being eroded by chemical fertilisers. The old tried and tested system work better in the long run.
IET has encouraged communities to grow their own vegetables to provide a staple diet. Depending on the season various types of vegetables can be cultivated without too much maintenance.