|Mardan District Assessment|
Mardan district was selected as pilot district to implement a more detailed assessment model, where more accurate data sets were developed and used.
To explore the environmental conditions of the district and to support a detailed data set for land cover interpretation, two Landsat images were used, one referred at 28/9/2001 and the other one at 29/9/1992. They also show the land cover changes in 10 years, identifying the current land use dynamics in Mardan.
Climatic data from 2 meteorological station were analysis to improve the climatic carachterization of the area. Soil maps were used to include pedological constraints tyo the analysis.
The final minimum requirements selection analysis in Mardan district is based on five criteria. For each of these criteria, thresholds or specific classes were defined to produce maps of “suitable” and “unsuitable” areas, as illustrated in the following table and images:
The higher accuracy in the definition of suitable areas for Mardan district has allowed the production of a final map in which the potential area for the district was better defined than the one produced with the national assessment. The use of detailed land cover, soil and landforms maps and the meteorological data has reveal that around 8.8 % of the total district areas would be suitable for olives (26,074 ha.) instead of the 13.2 % selected in the general elaboration (39,336 ha).
The major constraint for olives in this district is represented by its rainfall pattern. The average rain distributions gathered from the two stations (Saidu Sharif and Peshawar) showed the same pattern, even if, quantity wise, the rainfall from the northern one was usually double in quantity (total mm of rain).
Rather than average rainfall, the attention should be posed on its distribution. For the entire district precipitations, are mainly concentrated in the month of March (full flowering season, with values as high as 160 mm) as well as in full summer (July-August, monsoon rains). This rain pattern could pose threats for the olive cultivation in the district for two main reasons. The first and immediate one is that constant rainfall occurring at flowering time may heavily reduce the production. The second source of concern is that, rainfall in summer time (not typical of the Mediterranean region), could trigger the proliferation of various plant diseases. This last aspect was already evident for the harvest 2007 in Sang Bhatti, where various samples of olives collected at the local research station, were showing high infestation of Gleosporium Olivarum (up to 50% recorded by the author). As a consequence, olive growing in the district would be probably characterized by a fluctuating production strictly connected to the risk of heavy rainfall at flowering, and in constant need of chemical treatments with fungicides to keep fungal diseases under control. This aspect could directly affect the cost of production.