Hard times for cane growers
Mohammad Hussain Khan
10, 2011: A SIGNIFICANT drop in sugarcane sowing is feared
this season as vast cane-producing areas remain inundated in
Much of the cane cultivation takes place between August and
While directive has been issued by President Asif Ali
Zardari to the relevant authorities to drain out rainwater
from farms, very little effort is seen yet on the ground.
The crop is mostly grown in Badin, Tando Mohammad Khan,
Tando Allahyar, Thatta, Mirpurkhas and Matiari districts in
lower Sindh. These areas were submerged by rainwater during
the recent heavy monsoon.
The effort of abadgars to drain out water through saline
water drains and canals has achieved very little success. As
all drains flowed at their full capacity, it resulted in
reverse flow of drained out water.
Though the rains that started in the middle of August
stopped in mid September, by then enormous damage had been
caused to cotton, rice and chilly crops including vegetables
and sugarcane fields.
After harvesting of wheat by April and cotton and rice by
September, growers start gradually preparing their lands
forcane sowing. Onion is also planted on ridges. After
giving one to two cycles of irrigation water the space
between the two ridges is utilised for cane cultivation.
Cane cultivation also takes place in February but not on a
big scale because of shortage of water and very low per acre
Under the prevailing conditions, some growers would go for
February cultivation of cane,, according to growers.
Sindh Abadgar Board President Abdul Majeed Nizamani is of
the view that land commanded by Kotri barrage would not have
more than 10 to 12 per cent cane cultivation in February.
These areas are fed by a non-perennial canal system and
water is not available after November. He, however, hopes
that cane sowing would take place even in March in the area.
After closure of Sukkur barrage for maintenance, water is
released downstream Sukkur. “So water from Sukkur is
released in non- perennial canals of Kotri barrage. But
still cane sowing in February-March will be insignificant,”
Sindh Chamber of Agriculture president Dr Nadeem Qamar says
around 70 per cent of cane sowing cannot take place during
the present autumn season when 90 to 95 per cent of
sugarcane is cultivated. Between 20 to 25 per cent
cultivation takes place in February when growers miss
August-October sowing period. But the late sowing results in
poor per acre yield. But the dilemma of growers whose lands
are located in tail-end areas is that they don’t get water
in February, he says.
Although these lands of abadgars are fed by perennial canals
of Sukkur barrage they don’t get water because they are
located at the tail-end areas in Jhuddo, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot
and Tando Jan Mohammad. These areas were badly affected by
recent rains. “I believe that 70 per cent of growers have
their lands in the tail-end areas,” he says.
Per acre yield of cane sown in February is poor. According
to grower Nadeem Shah the yield is around 300-400 maunds per
acre against the average of 700 maunds in autumn. A
progressive landowner even gets 1,000 maunds per acre.
“Usually germination doesn’t take place when cane is sown in
February as temperature starts rising, affecting the growth.
However, cane sown in October gets matured enough by the
time summer starts. It is not affected by moderate rains but
the current spell was exceptional which affected the crop
badly, he remarks.
But cane can be in patches of dry or high land in these rain
affected districts provided landowners are able to prepare
them for sowing.
Courtesy: The DAWN