Soil salinity is a major impediment to crop production in many parts of the world. This necessitates search for suitable alternatives to meet the demands of burgeoning populations. Opening new lands for cultivation is not without dire ecological consequences while domestic, industrial, and agriculture utilization have increased pressure on good quality water resources. Hence, we have to live with the abundantly available saline arid lands and salty waters. In this background, logic demands that attention is to be paid to the vegetation of those habitats, which have been degraded by salinity and identify plant species growing there which may be suited to our needs. These wild plants (halophytes) could be cultivated and put to an array of usages like food, fodder, fuel wood, oilseed, medicines, chemicals, landscaping, ornamentals and environmental conservation through carbon sequestration. Halophytes have a history of being a valuable resource for utilizing saline lands and brackish water however their utilization has remained relatively unfulfilled. We have identified a number of species from the halophytic flora of the Sindh/Balochistan coast of Pakistan and adjoining inland areas that have potential for use as a feed crop for animals. Initial studies have shown that seeds of a number of halophytes can produce sufficient quantity of good quality edible oil having 70-80% unsaturated fatty acids. Ethno-botanical survey has established the presence of a number of halophytes with prospect of medicinal use for various ailments. Similarly, several species have been identified as source of biofuel/biodiesel. Species exist with potential to check shifting sand dunes and serve as a carbon sink. The above findings are of particular significance keeping in view the fact that both Pakistan and Qatar are largely arid with considerable overlapping of flora. Implication of our research conducted at University of Karachi on the sustainable development of Qatar would be discussed.


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