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Special Report:
Flood Crisis

1
 

 
Farmlands inundated by flood waters

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By Mohammad Hussain Khan


MORE areas in Dadu and Jamshoro districts inundated by floodwater will make it impossible for growers to sow crops in the coming Rabi season. The entire right bank area is expected to make nominal contribution to the Rabi crop.

The government is still going through early recovery programme for flood-hit farmers, and still assessing the damages. But official sources say some incentives like subsidy on farm inputs are being planned for growers.

Water will take some time to recede from farmlands and then growers will need time to prepare or level their lands for the Kharif season next year, provided the government announces the required subsidies. Agriculture department officials say only 60 per cent area in Larkana district and 20 per cent in Shikarpur district have remained safe while the rest has been inundated.

Last year, wheat was cultivated on 2.7 million acres because of an attractive support price of Rs950 per 40kg. Growers in Jacobabad, Kashmore, Qambar-Shahdadkot, Larkana districts, who used to produce gram, got interested in growing wheat. Even katcha area has been producing wheat, sugarcane, cotton and paddy.

The wheat sowing target has not been fixed as yet. Rabi season in Sindh commences from November 1 and according to an agriculture department official, the sowing continues as late as January 10 in lower Sindh. Government seems to be planning to focus on wheat cultivation in areas which remained unaffected on the left bank, barring Thatta district..
 

 

The Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) president Abdul Majeed Nizamani observes that in view of the present situation, sunflower cultivation seems to be the only option for growers and the government should also capitalise on it. Sunflower crop can be sown as late as February in upper Sindh which remained unaffected and where water is receding. “We can save our import bill by producing edible oil through sunflower production on 1.5 million acres. It is currently grown on 500,000 acres,” he says.

Nizamani estimates that government can save on an import bill of Rs85 billion by investing Rs12 billion on subsidy on inputs like DAP, urea, seed and Rs3,000 for land preparation per acre.

Sindh Chamber of Agriculture president Dr Nadeem Qamar is hopeful about wheat cultivation on the left bank, provided irrigation department officials work effectively to provide water on time. He, however, sees no chances of Rabi crop on Indus right bank area. “The area is completely devastated by floods. I see no future for Rabi crop for our right bank counterparts,” he said.

According to Senior Member, Board of Revenue, Syed Ghulam Ali Shah Pasha, the main problem is that upper Sindh area doesn’t have any drainage system which can make water recede. “Water table in these areas is already high. I don’t see chances for Rabi crop there,” he says. Growers need to make their land cultivable first for which the government is committed to support them, he remarks.

Upper Sindh growers have late sowing patterns as compared to lower Sindh region for Rabi. Area that is normally brought under cultivation for wheat in Dadu and Jamshoro districts is currently bearing the brunt of floodwater due to breaches in the Main Nara Valley Drain (MNVD) and Manchar Lake.

The farm labourers have also suffered badly due to flood. Displaced, they are staying in relief camps in different cities. They have to return first to their native towns for their landowners to start cultivation.

The irrigation system also stands damaged in upper and lower Sindh by floodwaters. Performance of irrigation department has never been impressive. While a quarter of population of Sindh was affected by flood, a big population of growers kept demanding availability of water for their Kharif crop.

Two persons are reported to have committed suicide in upper Sindh due to non-availability of water for their crops. Growers’ protests still continue in areas of left bank in Sindh for supply of irrigation water.



Courtesy: The DAWN

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