Recently watched a video, Chinese colleagues are converting desert into cropland. Developing deserted lands is a very good idea but converting into croplands is rather a bad idea. I personally do not like this idea because of some reasons, given in the ensuing lines.
- Deserts are not zero valued or waste land. The ancestors of many staple foods’ seed and livestock species are inhibited in the desert.
- The deserts are historically and traditionally grazing lands. The precious and highly adapted and multipurpose native livestock evolved into the present day breeds in the desert. Such livestock is the answer to the difficult and complex challenges of the climate change.
- Deserts not only inhibits the precious plants and animal genetic resources but provides fascinating beauty to the landscape.
- Deserts have their own identity on the surface of the earth. It provides unique environments to many seasonal and migratory animals in different time periods of the year.
- Deserts play role in the weathering and energy flow of the planet (though not many references).
- A corporate and massive agric farming will destroy the overall health of the desert and the precious floral genetic resources can be vanished as well as the animal genetic resources.
Then what can be done the best with the desert?
- The top suggestion can be the re-vegetation of the wild species of flora which are already adapted to the specific climatic conditions of the relevant desert/s.
- Fixation of the dunes, minimizing the intensity of desert storms, and covering certain/specific areas with the organic layer cover can be revolution.
- The innovation and science loving countries can use smart and sustainable methodologies to provide organic cover to certain areas of the desert. Like in UAE, the camel manure can be use to make organic covering bricks to cover the sand. https://camel4all.blog/2016/02/02/camels-dungzfrom-waste-to-a-worthwhile-farming-agent/amp/
- The organic pads can be used as a ball for seeds. The seeds will grow very well in the organic pads and will sustain its growth and development in the coming years. Enveloping seeds (native to desert) into the organic pads like the farmers practice in floating agric in Bangladesh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5MKlSoubOY will bring a revolution in the desert.
- Plantation of native trees and bushes like Prosopis, acacia, and haloxyllon, etc. can provide very good woody cover to the desert and minimize the intensities of the storms.
- Such vegetation in return can support feeding to the native livestock and wildlife.
My take on this issue is not for criticism but for the development of understanding about the deserts and starting a debate to have the technical opinion on this important topic.