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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 650 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 11 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Don’t Ever Talk About Me Being Creative Again, It Creeps Me Out !

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By: Tayyib Aftab

This incident took place when I was sitting with my friend who works at a digital agency. We were having a good time at a nearby ‘Dhaaba’ (local tea restaurant) when suddenly the phone rang, not mine, his. ‘I told you to increase LIKES on our Facebook page and you promised you would do it, in fact, when you pitched your idea, it was the key element’. Then a silence for like 5 seconds, and my friend responded: ‘Please do not worry, I have already sent a message to our team and they are working on it’. And the conversation ended.

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I read those thousand words on my friend’s face, which he wanted to say but he didn’t speak. I realized how difficult it is to handle such clients in today’s world. But it got me to thinking, is it really true that these digital agencies…

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Enjoy Being DESI…!

We people don’t have much time to get out of our busy schedules and experience different things and stuffs which life has to offer us. We work day and night like machines and we are disappeared somewhere in our busy routines without knowing that our inner souls have become hostages to our busy urban lifestyle. What I think is we all need to get some time out of this city routine and try to live the DESI lifestyle so that we can enjoy the purity of this world and can talk to our inner souls. Now the question is where we can have this DESI environment in urban areas so the answer to this question is Agri-tourism!

I have written an article about Agri-tourism few months back and I have discussed about the economic impact of this activity on Pakistan’s Agriculture Industry. Luckily in August, me and my university fellows got a chance to experience the charm and festivity of Agri-tourism at Qadir Buksh Farms in Faisalabad. No words can explain our feelings of being Desi and living the lifestyle of farmers which is completely different from urban lifestyle. This trip was not just to experience the DESI lifestyle but it was about travelling all the way from Karachi to Faisalabad, meeting different people from agriculture sector and also the students from Faisalabad and Sargodha Agriculture University to share their experiences and ideas for the betterment of agriculture sector of Pakistan.

A group of students from Agriculture and Agribusiness Department, University of Karachi was invited by Sir Tariq Tanveer (Consultant Agri-Tourism and Entertainment Farming and CEO of Agri-Tourism Development Corporation of Pakistan) to attend the event on World Kitchen Gardening day 2014 at Faisalabad. It was a tough decision to go to Faisalabad to attend that event but my friends decided not to miss the opportunity and we decided to participate in the event.

We all decided to go by Train and it was my first experience to travel through railways. It was tough but it was fun too. Playing and singing in train for approx. 20 hours was unforgettable and I salute other passengers for being so patient and tolerated everything what we did on train.

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Thanks to Sir Tariq Tanveer who was there to receive us at Faisalabad station. From there we directly moved to Qadir Buksh Farms. The best part is when we reached the Farm at afternoon, the Lunch was ready and seriously that was a blessing!

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In Agri-tourism the condition of your resting rooms play a very crucial part, as tourist should be facilitated at its best and this is what Sir Tariq did. Resting rooms were comfortable, electricity, water and above all security, all things are totally perfect! And how can I forget the party, dancing and making fun of others outside our rooms every night 🙂

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We visited different farms and famous places of Faisalabad like Qadir Buksh Farm, Dates Farm, Gut wala Park, Faisalabad Press Club and the famous Ghanta Ghar. We enjoyed swimming in NEHAR and in Tube well as well.

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On 24th August 2014, we all attended the World Kitchen Garden Day 2014, Speakers shared their valuable thoughts and experiences about the importance of kitchen gardening and guide us how to grow organic food at our own places and what benefits we can get through organic gardening. At the event we met Akhlaq Khan Kakar, Niaz Sahab, CEO AgriHunt.com, Members from Agri Education Pakistan (M. Safeer Abbas and M. Jarrar Ahmed) and many other agricultural officials and students from different cities and universities.

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We went Ghnta Ghar Bazar for shopping and bought some traditional stuff from there and then we visited Faisalabad Agricultural University. I want to thank JunaidTaha and Ghulam Jelani for taking out time from their busy schedule and to work as a guide for us and thank you Junaid for the delicious mango juice 🙂

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And in the End many Thanks to Sir Tariq Tanver (Consultant Agri-Tourism and Entertainment Farming and CEO of Agri-Tourism Development Corporation of Pakistan) for inviting us and give us a chance to enjoy and experience the extravaganza and quintessence of Agri-tourism in Desi style.

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#Qadir Bakhsh Farms is the first project of Agri-Tourism in Pakistan which is designed and developed under the consultancy of Tariq Tanveer CEO Agri-Tourism Development Corporation of Pakistan. He is also working with two other mega projects of Agri-Tourism Farms in Pakistan. One of their projects will be open for public and community in December 2014 at Jarawalaand and other will be open in March 2015 at Ranja.


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Agricultural Wages

It is a psychological fact that every person wants progress in life. This applies to job sector as well, everyone needs a reputed organization to work in couple with handsome salary and for this purpose people switch their jobs within a country or try to go abroad. In this article I assembled Agricultural Wages of 15 countries according to their experience. The study gives you an overview that how agricultural salaries varies in different countries. The data has been taken from Payscale and cannot be guaranteed 100% accurate, as for some countries there is no data available or it is not accurate but basic Pay scale is considered deeply reliable source for global salary rates.

 

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I am not convinced about the data given about agricultural wages in Pakistan but I want readers to share if they know the actual data.

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This article guides you the variation in agricultural wages but you have to consider devaluation of a currency, inflation rate and salary taxation in a particular country. These parameters will guide you the best possible option for switching a job in a foreign country.

Anyone who knows more concrete statistics about agriculture salaries in these countries so feel free to share!


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Agri-Tourism – An Innovative Business

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Prosperous farmers mean more employment, more prosperity for the workers and the business men of every industrial area in the whole country.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Farmers are the backbone of any agricultural country. If Farmers are becoming strong economically that means all the sectors and industries of the country will grow and will be more strengthen and there business will flourish definitely. But the question is how farmers will be prosperous and how we can strengthen their hands financially in the situation where prices of every raw material is increasing dramatically and farmers are not getting the profit which they usually expect in the past years. In this era of economical crises, it is very difficult for farmers to get more business so we need to give some innovative business plans which can actually give farmers a good Return on Investment.

If we talk about the farmers in Pakistan they are mostly small and marginal so definitely  they cannot invest huge amount of money in any project or business plan, so they need something which have a less investment and they can get good profit out of it. Agri-Tourism  is the best answer to this problem because  farmer’s investment is not that huge and you can earn good amount of money which you can use for different purposes like to purchase standard and certified raw materials so that you can get more yield at last.

Agri-tourism is not a new concept but farmers did not think seriously about it but after financial crises and to attain sustainability in agriculture, farmers are now seriously thinking to start agri-tourism and people in Pakistan also started this and they are getting huge appreciation and a very good response as well. Tariq Tanveer of Qadir Bux Farms and Tofiq Pasha have taken initiative to start agri-tourism In Pakistan.

Agri-Tourism, as its name suggests that it is a blend of agriculture and tourism where people come to visit farms and experience the true nature!

  • Pick their own food
  • Make overnight stays
  • Plan their weddings on farm
  • Agriculture Festivals
  • Farmers Market
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • School visits
  • Tractor rides etc.

But Farmers who provide the services of agri-tourism on their farms should be highly interactive and should have the ability to transfer the knowledge to the visitors so they can build their interest in agriculture so that they can come to your farm again.

Now check some survey reports of this innovative business and check whether farmers are getting profit with agri-tourism or not.

Total Expenditure by visitors to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, by category, 1998

Expenditure type

% of groups in sample

Estimated total groups*

Average expenditure per group

Estimated total expenditure*

 

in dollars

Food & Drinks

53.42

28,326

34.77

984,931

Overnight lodging

6.29

3,338

204.63

683,071

Recreation activities

58.09

30,806

9.25

284,979

Gasoline & auto related

23.74

12,589

18.30

230,424

Groceries, toiletries, etc.

5.22

2,766

52.69

145,732

Other Expenditures

3.42

1,812

19.16

34,716

Total Expenditure

2,363,853

* The figures in columns 3 and 5 result from projecting visitor group expenditure data from the sample to the estimated total of 200,000 people of 53,028 groups that visited The Flower Fields.
Source: San Diego County Agricultural Tourism & Direct Marketing Survey, 1998.

Let’s check out the survey report of University of California about Agri-Tourism.

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This means that Agri-tourism surely enhances your farm income and if you are focused and innovative then you can earn a good profit and you can also become a prosperous farmer too. To start agri-tourism, farmers usually face these two big problems

  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Skilled Labor

And for South Asian countries third issue is providing Eco Friendly Environment. We can overcome these issues step by step. Obviously if we know that we can earn a lot of money by this tourism then we definitely invest a little on skilled labor as well and for the same reason we will make our farm according to Eco standards so that more and more visitors can come and enjoy. Now the issue of Marketing and Advertising, it is a bit costly if you want to make your own website but for the start up you can use social media which is very effective nowadays and when you start getting the business you can invest on website making and designing as well!

Mind sets of people are now changing and they are now fed up with our unnatural way of lives and they actually want to experience the true nature and actually want to come out from this noisy world and want Peace. People now like to eat fresh food and want to relax and enjoy with their families. Now public can experience all of these things in a package of Agri-Tourism!


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Social Media – A Magic Wand in Agriculture

Social Media is the craziest thing in which people of every age and every group of life are involved and actually addicted to it. Average time people spend on Social Interactive sites like Facebook and Twitter is 5-7 hours. So this time is purely dedicated for interaction with people and discussion of lot of things around.

Social Media is not just for fun but in fact it works as a magic wand by which you can do wonders. Now people are doing their businesses from social media. Now every business should have a social interactive website so that they get an instant feedback about their businesses and get the public point of view about the product they sell. Social Media is not magical just for business related issues but they are doing magic on educational and research grounds as well. So Social Media is a package where people get what they want and they can discuss their point of views and can share things of their interests as well.

When Social Media waved the Magic Wand over Agriculture, the whole concept of agriculture changed. From student to a professional farmer actually entered into a new phase of agriculture where things get better, effective and easy! 

Social Media and Agriculture Students

Social media make agriculture academics simple. Students now find E-books, Handouts, Research Papers and many informative videos on farming and livestock as well. And above all they can interact with different students, teachers and professionals and can discuss their problems, give their thoughts on different issues and in addition you will be noticed by professionals too! You can also talk to people around the world and can learn about diverse agricultural systems working in different countries. Students can find internships and jobs through social media.

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Making Extension work trouble-free

Extension work a very important part of agriculture sciences and management is now not so difficult as compared to previous days. Now you can easily engage with the farmers through social media and can guide and inform about new technologies and how they can work better for farmers. Farmers on other hand can ask about different diseases and management issues and find their solutions easily. Information about the time and quantity of Fertilizer and Pesticide use is now as simple as ABC. Farmers now share their experiences, problems and solutions on Facebook, twitter and even youtube and it benefits new people in this field as well as professional farmers. AgChats is the perfect example of it.

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Farm Record Keeping and Management Software and Apps

Farm Recording is the key of farming and this is become very easy by Mobile apps and Farm recording software like agsquared, farmlogs and FarmPAD. Now you can manage and record each and everything on the go. These magical softwares helps you to organize your farm in seconds, so nothing to worry about because magic is in the air!

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Social Media and Agribusiness

E-agribusiness is a popular term for the people related to agriculture. Agribusiness become digital nowadays. There are many companies who have their product website and they actively use social media for the marketing of  their agricultural products.

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There are websites which brings importers and exporters on one platform so that consumer can find their desired products at good price.

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Companies related to Agriculture technologies and machineries also work passionately on social media.

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People are now selling gardening equipment through social media and they are making good money out of it.

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Awareness Campaigns through Social Media

Awareness campaigns are very common on social media and you find bulk of awareness campaigns under the title of Agriculture.

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Social media is doing magical things around us and actually it is helping the whole Agriculture Sector including farming and livestock. Every branch of agriculture is now connected with social media from seed to harvesting a crop and raising livestock. Social Media in fact created Agriculture a magical world where you just need a magic wand to conquer it!

 


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Organic Farming – Salubrious for Pakistan?

Agriculture is not limited to art, and if you are a preacher of such thoughts let me tell you this that you are simply belong to wrong school of thoughts. It is a versatile field where you have both, art as well as science and come up with innovative experiments at every instant. These experiments may not necessary be successful every time, you may achieve the target or your  mays end up with empty hands. Agriculture researchers has experienced many ups and downs in past. Thus it has become a need of time to make plans to wrestle these problems. In nineteen century when agriculturist observed rapid increase of population rate and agricultural land was surely not enough to feed such a huge population then they took help from scientific research and development, thus scientific era of agriculture started.

Scientific era brought in pesticides, chemical fertilizers and modern machinery with itself. This led to higher profits with less input cost of raw materials. For a farmer this was the ideal system of farming and it helped them to take up a better standard of living but then eventually environmentalist revealed hazardous reactions of these chemicals to environment and how it actually effects soil and water adversely. Business minded farmers did not take this argument seriously as the main problem was Profit as they think if we go back to organic practices it will surely affect the yield and they won’t get the desired profit. With this the question of feeding billions of people arises as hunger is still present even when we are doing chemical farming. And from here the debate started that Can organic farming feed the gigantic Population?

This is the interesting debate and I want to talk about these arguments in the agricultural scenario of Pakistan. Pakistani farmers finally broke the ice and started organic farming but on small scale and they mostly employing on olericulture but what about staple foods? According to latest research organic farming can yield 20 to 25% less as compared to conventional farming. Researchers stated that the yields were dramatically lower for these commodities in America, as per follow:

  • 40 percent lower for winter wheat
  • 29 percent lower for corn
  • 34 percent lower for soy
  • 53 percent lower for spring wheat
  • 41 percent lower for rice
  • 58 percent lower for sorghum
  • and 64 percent lower for millet.

Canola was the only row-crop with greater yields through organic farming. Moreover, the organic options yielded:

  • 28 percent lower for potatoes
  • 21 percent lower for sweet corn
  • 38 percent lower for onions
  • 19 percent lower for snap beans
  • and 52 percent lower for bell peppers.

Perhaps most distressingly, some of the healthiest foods on the planet yielded comparatively poorly under organic production: 42 percent lower for blueberries, 23 percent lower for broccoli, and almost 40 percent lower for tomatoes.

Apparently the demographics proved that switching to organic farming is not a wise choice for staple food on large scales. And obviously this research was done with perfect organic practices and standard was maintained to grow food in organic conditions but what about Pakistan? In conventional farming we are not following the right practices and thus getting lower yield as compared to different countries of the world so we can imagine the outcome we will get with organic farming. In Pakistan poverty and depletion has broken all the previous records and if we assume only 10% less yield through organic farming, you may imagine the disastrous outcome in Pakistan due to the shortage of already inadequate food production and high food prices (we cannot exclude the hoarder factor as well). We also have come across the negative remarks about chemical farming and how it leads to death, then we should remember that shortage of food not only leads to death but it creates many social problems and crime rate increases automatically. So it is not only the problem of Hunger but the problem of the entire system of the society.

And one more interesting argument in favor of organic farming is that it can feed the world as the world currently produces the equivalent of 2786 calories per person per day. The researchers found that under an organic-only regime, farms could produce between 2641 and 4381 calories per person per day. This is right that organic farming gives you more nutritious food with better taste but does it really matters for the people of Pakistan certainly NO!

Personally I am not against Organic Farming but as facts and figures show it will create yield issues then I think the repercussion will be bad but we should appreciate organic farming for small scale farms as marginal farmers can manage the organic field better and they can get good returns from organic way of farming.

According to me we should go for Integrated Farming System where we can practice both organic and conventional farming. As Prof. Foley said “By combining organic and conventional practices in a way that maximizes food production and social good while minimizing adverse environmental impact, we can create a truly sustainable food system.”

As experiments are the part of any new development we should continue experimenting on the system of Organic Farming from where we can get better yield so then it can compete and become the perfect alternate for conventional farming!