KARACHI: Agriculture in Sindh has suffered losses of about 700 billion rupees due to crop damage and livestock deaths, while wheat could not be sown on about 30% of the land, have said the producers.
In an interview with The News, Mehmood Nawaz Shah, Senior Vice Chairman of Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB), said the agricultural sector provides direct employment to 38% of the population, while its indirect impacts are even greater. in terms of job creation.
“When the 2022 floods came, cotton and paddy were in the fields at a mature level,” he said. “Farmers had already spent around 70-80% on these crops. Cotton picking had started in parts of lower Sind, while it was ready to be picked in upper Sind.
During the rain, about 70-80% of the cotton crop was damaged. Date palms in Khairpur were also affected as they were going through the harvest period.
Significant losses were recorded by date palm plantations and cotton and paddy crops. About 10-15% of the sugarcane crop was lost, while onions, cauliflower and other vegetables were also affected.
The livestock sector suffered heavy losses. This sector constitutes more than 50 percent of the agricultural sector. More than 500,000 animals have been affected by the floods. In addition, houses, warehouses and livestock shelters were totally or partially damaged.
Shah said the widespread rains not only inflicted heavy losses on the rural economy, but the impacts were also felt on the urban economy, as well as exports. Ginning factories and the export of cotton would be affected. Moreover, the import of cotton would henceforth monopolize a greater part of the already declining currencies.
“We fear that if Rabi or winter plantings do not occur, the losses would have major impacts on the country’s economy,” he added.
The government said it would sow wheat on the same land as last year. However, “we believe that 30 to 40% of the area cannot be sown. If wheat is sown late in some areas, there will be an impact on yield,” the SVP said.
As the fields were still flooded, Rabi’s main wheat crop would be affected except for oilseeds like mustard and sunflower. “It’s not just the water that needs to dry up in the fields; at least another 10 to 15 days are needed for plowing to be possible on this land,” he added.
Shah said things were confused with large numbers. What was clear is that extreme events have increased.
Flood waters from the north passed through Sindh as it was the southernmost province. “We are in the tail of fresh water,” he said.
Previously, when the Indus River flowed freely and dams were not built, the water was distributed to the ponds and lakes widespread in the province. “People used this water to cultivate their land.”
The drainage and water systems of the British were neither maintained nor reinforced. When water arrives in large quantities, it also carries negative risks, which must be mitigated.
Shah suggested that “existing water systems or streams should be released”. Also, the left bank outlet drain (LBOD) needs to be reinforced and increased. “The Federal Government and then the Provincial Government attempted to implement the Right Bank Outflow Drain (RBOD), which has yet to be completed despite an expenditure of over Rs 30 billion.”
He suggested that it was necessary to focus on water, its use and its storage.
Shah said not only has the rain increased, but the temperature has also increased. It is necessary to intensify the research and development of these seeds, which are resistant to temperature and can survive in such circumstances.
He said the seeds, developed in biotechnology, were imported for human and animal consumption like soybeans, but were not produced here.
The SAB official said the government has no plans for Rabi and Kharif’s next seasons. “The rains and floods happened in August. We have asked the government to respond to the floods and come up with a six-month agricultural plan,” he added.
Talking about costly inputs, Shah said if the government wants to support the people, it must come up with a comprehensive Rabi and Kharif plan. “We are in mid-November, but there is no government plan in sight to mitigate the losses,” he lamented.
The government said it would distribute 1.2 million sacks of wheat to farmers in the flooded areas, but no concrete provision was given for this.
“When the water dries up, the Rabi season will end. Until there is a long-term plan and the government invests in agriculture, it will be difficult to get out of the situation,” said said the Senior Vice President.