A brave widow – Bhappan Bibi cultivates her small farm in Multan.

Pakistan’s fertile lands, irrigated by five rivers and one of the world’s largest canal networks, are providing good yields and respectable livelihood to over 70 percent of the country’s 240 million citizens. Therefore, the agricultural sector has attracted large-scale investments from global and domestic enterprises, contributing to socio-economic development and sustainable growth. The nation’s farming communities have many inspirational stories of diligent growers who have achieved remarkable success. During a recent visit to South Punjab, I came across one of these exemplary farmers – Bhappan Bibi a courageous widow who nurtures her own crops on her seven acres of land near Multan city, situated on the bank of river Chenab. After the tragic loss of her husband, 18 years ago, the only option she had was to take up farming on this small piece of land that she owned. With her hard work and strong will, Bhappan Bibi has been able to sustain her household, feed and educate her 5 children for almost two decades now. Over the years, she cultivated rice, wheat, Okra, etc., all by herself, and this honorable profession has also enabled her to get her three daughters married. Today, she can also afford to get her remaining two children married, without depending on any financial help from relatives or others. She is skilled in efficient water use and knows crop-protection, spray-techniques and timely use of the right amount of fertilizers. Hence, her farm produces high-quality crops that earn a good price in the market. Based on her experience, Bhappan Bibi especially highlighted the role that innovative crop protection products and advisory services of Syngenta – the global producer of crop protection, biologicals, seeds and crop enhancement products – through its Naya Savera franchise network have played in not only protecting her crop against different pests and diseases but also increasing the quality and quantity of her farm’s yield. This merit a special mention in this article because often we neglect the positive impact that socially and environmentally responsible crop protection companies such as Syngenta are playing in making resourceful contributions to the wellbeing of the farmers and socio-economic development of the country through their products, advisory services and training on safe and responsible usage. Water-shortage and rising-temperatures are impacting agricultural productivity and practices all over the world. The water-availability and farms’ outputs in the Multan region are also reducing. However, Bhappan Bibi has been very fortunate in this regard. By applying her deep understanding of irrigation-techniques, she has overcome the water shortage and get much higher yields. While many other farmers, who were using local, low-quality products and relying heavily on canal water have suffered greatly, in the same area. These farmers are now seeking Bhappan Bibi’s advice to reduce the negative impact of climate-change. Giving an inspirational message to the women around the world, Bhappan Bibi stated that; “If I can achieve so much, with self-reliance, hard-work and patience – so can you. Today’s woman has much easier access to a world of information that I could never dream of, during my toughest days. These girls can accomplish everything by remaining focused on their positive ambitions. Never get discouraged by what negative people say and take optimum advantage of your talents and evolving-technologies”.