Is Converting Desert into Cropland a Wise Decision?

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.


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.

  1. Deserts are not zero valued or waste land. The ancestors of many staple foods’ seed and livestock species are inhibited in the desert.
  2. 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.
  3. Deserts not only inhibits the precious plants and animal genetic resources but provides fascinating beauty to the landscape.
  4. 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.
  5. Deserts play role in the weathering and energy flow of the planet (though not many references).
  6. 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?

  1. 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.
  2. Fixation of the dunes, minimizing the intensity of desert storms, and covering certain/specific areas with the organic layer cover can be revolution.
  3. 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/
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Such vegetation in return can support feeding to the native livestock and wildlife.

Important Note

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.

Author: Dr Raziq

I’m PhD in Animal Agriculture, currently working as a Technical Manager at Al Ain Farms for Livestock Production, Camel dairying, Alain, UAE. I had performed as a Professor and Dean, at the Faculty of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Sciences Pakistan (LUAWMS). I work on and write for the subjects of ‘turning camel from a beast of burden to a sustainable farm animal’, agricultural research policies, extensive livestock production systems, food security under climate change context, and sustainable use of traditional genetic resources for food and agriculture. Iim advocating camel under the theme of CAMEL4LIFE and believe in camel potential. I’m the founder and head of the Society of Animal, Veterinary and Animal Scientists (SAVES), and Founder of the Camel Association of Pakistan. I also work as a freelance scientist working (currently member of steering committee) for Desert Net International (DNI). I’m an ethnoecologist, ethnobotanist, Ethnovet and ethomedicie researcher and reviewer. I explore deserts and grazing lands for knowledge and understanding.

14 thoughts on “Is Converting Desert into Cropland a Wise Decision?”

  1. Yeah,sir you know better the best utilization of desert land, I think so that desert should be utilized ,the way nature has provided with it’s own plantation, but progress in science and technology any thing can be possible to grow in the desert with passage of time…. Nyc effort ❤️

  2. Yeah,sir you know better the best utilization of desert land, I think so that desert should be utilized ,the way nature has provided with it’s own plantation, but progress in science and technology any thing can be possible to grow in the desert with passage of time…. Nyc effort ❤️

  3. I think that your points are extremely valid and should be publicized globally. Perhaps the United Nation should be approached. When
    I finish my series on rivers, I will write about, that is how important I think it is. Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention.

  4. No way!!! Seriously i am not agree with this. Nature has its own place and own duty. Everything in nature is created for some reason. We have enough land for cropping. If we need extra cropping. There should be other idea but not desert. If we do this we will loose the beauty of nature. We must sign petition for this. Already we are facing global warming and environmental issues. We must save our desert and beauty of EARTH 🌍

  5. I agree with kahkashan, We must save desert. As in some areas in the world they dont have desert and they go to other where to see beauty of deserts. as i remember in my region many tourists came to see deserts. Desert with plants and animals is more beautiful as well as it gives us more calmness

    1. Yes, desserts are very important and need real support. Deserts have multidimensional roles. Not only for tourism as well as the home to precious biodiversity. Crop farming will eliminate precious biodiversity.

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