Here are some recollections of Faisalabad, Pakistan, in the summer of
2001. Faisalabad is the second biggest city of the Punjab Province, originally
grew as a center for the collection of agricultural products. I visited
the city since I wanted to investigate the state of salt damage (salinity
and waterlogging) there. Mr. Yasuno, a specialist in agriculture and the
founder of an NGO devoted to measures against salt damage, introduced
me to his colleague Mr. Amjad, and got Mr. Amjad to show me around.
Put simply, salt damage refers to the condition where salt is accumulated
on the surface of the ground, to the extent that crop cultivation becomes
impossible. When irrigation channels are badly maintained, the water in
them seeps away. The level of underground water then rises, and salt is
brought to the surface, where it accumulates. Mr. Amjad showed me some
really broad expanses of cultivated land badly affected by salt damage,
and from this I was able to appreciate the seriousness of this problem
for farming in Pakistan.
But what struck me more than anything
else on this occasion was the rich munificence of the Indus River. The
photograph shows an irrigation canal which draws water from the Indus.
To a Japanese observer, this might seem a large and splendid waterway,
but within the Indus irrigation system, the canal in the photograph is
simply one of many minor terminal channels, located towards the extremities
of the complex hierarchy of irrigation canals fed by the distant river.
In the countryside surrounding this minor canal, fields of wheat and cotton
stretch as far as the eye can see. Water buffalo bathe at their leisure
in the canal. Camels are used for the transportation of goods. As one
would expect, sheep and goats can also be seen here and there. A great
green landscape, its length and breadth criss-crossed by canals such as
this one: this is Punjab.
What with air raids in Afghanistan,
and tension along the India-Pakistan border, mention of Pakistan these
days conjures up the image of a "dangerous place." But whenever I go to
Pakistan, I always think, "My goodness, this is a well-endowed land."
The delight of doing research there is really feeling the nature of the