Sino-Pak scientists working to turn Gwadar’s sandy land green. Scientists from China and Pakistan are developing various kinds of plants adapt to the local conditions to make the sandy land of Gwadar, the ‘shining pearl’ of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), green.
“So far, nearly 100,000 seedlings of bananas, dates, orchids and figs have been cultivated there under the Belt and Road Engineering Research Center for Tropical Arid Non-wood Forest, which was jointly launched by Central South University of Forestry and Technology, China Overseas Ports Holding Company Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd and Yulin Holdings in 2018.
At present, increasingly more Sino-Pak cooperation is happening under the research center in Gwadar. Pakistani universities, including the University of Karachi (KU), the Indus University and the University of Agriculture Faisalabad have participated in the research.
According to Assistant Professor Dr. Muhammad Yousaf Adnan of KU’s Department of Botany, researchers from China and Pakistan are working together to turn the barren lands and drought areas, especially Gwadar and other coastal areas into green lands.
“In this way, we can combat the effects of global warming and climate change. Now a very magnificent and well-developed laboratory has been developed in Gwadar, and tissue culture laboratory experiments have been conducted there. We are cultivating such varieties there which fulfill the drought environment,” he said.
“Most of the local people in the coastal areas have no proper source of income. When I went to Gwadar last year in an exchange event, I saw with my own eyes that local people were buying seedlings and plants that were prepared in the tissue culture lab, and they were planting them in their area. The local people were taking big benefit from it,” Dr. Muhammad Yousaf told CEN.
“I am 100% hopeful that the cooperation will give many benefits to the economy of Pakistan and China, particularly the Pakistani economy. If we are successful in this purpose, Gwadar will be a model of how we can green an area under environmental stress,” he said with confidence.
“We should plant such plants in Gwadar or our tropical arid environment, which will not only provide shade, oxygen, carbon dioxide regulation, and environmental benefits but we will also be able to earn through them. We should also observe the benefits of our local communities and farming communities,” Associate Professor Dr. Irfan Ahmed of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, said.
Some promising results had been made like now they could grow bananas and harvested there for the first time, he added.
Besides joint research, personnel exchange is also an important part of the cooperation. “Through the student exchange programme, Chinese teachers and students will come to Indus University, and they will understand the environment, agriculture and culture here. In the same way, Pakistani students and teachers will also go to China and they will benefit from this university,” said Indus University President Khalid Amin Sheikh.