Flood, Challenges and Way out

Government has set its Rabi crop target for FY 2010-2011 as 619.3 thousand tones (0.619 million tons) which is 17% less than the last year target whereas the last year production was 571.2 thousand tones. It manifests that this year expectation is 8.42% higher than the actual last year production keeping this devastating flood in view which has damaged 20%  of our cultivated land out of which 6.9 million hectares were highly fertilised.

The cultivation period of Rabi crop is from October to December and all the crops had been harvested till mid of April. Major crops of this season are wheat, barley, bajra, maize, gram, lentil, vegetables, rapeseed, mustard and other oilseeds or minor crops. Maize, potato, turnip and radish take 2 months; maize takes 4 months; gram and lentil take 5 months to grow.

In Rabi season gram and lentil are very important crops. Gram is sown during September to November and harvested in February. This crop requires low rainfall and cold weather. A seed rate is required 75-100kg/hectare and needs only 3 to 4 times watering in the whole season.

Total production of gram is targeted to 622.8 thousands tones from 1121.4 thousand hectares land. Province wise gram production target is as follow: from Punjab it is 86.43%, 5.92% from Sindh, 2.77% from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 2.77% and 4.86% from Baluchistan. But most interesting fact is this Sindh and Baluchistan have more productivity of gram per hectares than rest of two provinces because their soil and weather are more appropriate for grim crop. But unfortunately government has allocated only 36.9 and 30.3 thousand hectares land for grim production in Sindh and Baluchistan respectively whereas culturable waste of them are 22.78% and 76.93% of their arable land.

The second most important production of Rabi crop is lentil. In FY 2010-11, government has set target of 14.1 thousand tones lentil production which is about 24% less against the target set in last year. Land allocated for sowing  is about 29.9 thousand hectares.

Lentil crop grows well in less rainfall and cool areas of Pakistan. This crop is required 10 to 12 inches of annual rainfall. This crop cannot sustain due to flood and it is expecting that this year lentil yield and quality would not match the last year production.

Out of 29.8 thousand hectares land, Punjab would have 55.03%; Sindh 19.46%; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 15.43% and Baluchistan would provide 10.07% land for lentil production. Again when we see the records of last few years, then we come to know that Baluchistan is giving maximum productivity and Sindh is in second place.

Total seed required for cultivation of rabi crop is 40,884 metric tons for 1121.4 thousand hectares. This seed would be distributed averagely 40kg per hectares among provinces. By the report of United Nations Food Agency (UNFA), more than 0.5 million tones of seed stock has been damaged in Asian’s third largest wheat producer country by this flood. That is why, Punjab government has announced for supporting the flood victims by providing free seed for cultivation worth Rs. 8 billion. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) would also supply seeds worth $5 million and fertilizer worth $16 million by United States Funding Program for Agriculture. Australia has already given seeds for rabi crop worth $35 million.

The country’s dependency on agriculture is nearly 21% of total GDP and nearly 62% of the people are depended upon it. Agriculture is providing 43% of the total country’s output. In FY 2009-2010 targeted growth of agriculture was 3.8% but it expanded only 2%. Livestock has the major share in the agriculture which is about 53.2%. Livestock grew more than the target which was 3.5% but the actual reached to 4.1% but this blessing would not be prolong because flood killed 200,000 herds of livestock.

Climate has been changing alot, global warming is a hot issue nowadays, in fact the whole world, is facing a massive change in climate. This change in climate is also affecting the agriculture sector in Pakistan very much. During last year monsoon season (July – September, 2009), the total rainfall was recorded 101.8mm which was actually less than 26% to the normal and in winter season (January-march, 2010) the actual rainfall was 30.2% less than the normal.

In the FY(2009-10), the crop of cotton (main production of Kharif crop) was sown more than 10.14% area than the last year but its production grow only 9.2% which shows negative productivity par hectare than FY(2008-09). Sugarcane productivity also declined to nearly 7.7% against the FY(2008-09). Rice, which is famous around the world and Pakistan earns  a lot of foreign exchange through this crop, got high productivity. But its cultivated land was less than 2.68% but it did not affect the production more than 1% during the year under review. Overall productivity of the main crops of agriculture showed  negative trend. It shows that Pakistan is losing its main sector of the economy. However, the Task Force on agriculture declares that during last three years our agricultural input prices increased by 20 to 25%.

Now in current financial year we cannot bury our head in sand from this massive, destructive and wrecked flood which submerged 30% of our agricultural land. National Highway Authority(NHA) says that flood adversely damaged 1900km of provincial road including 27 bridges. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock revealed that Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa loosed 44,896, 5,41,696 and 80,823 tons of wheat respectively. Agricultural damages are more than $2.9 billion including 700,000 acres of cotton, 200,000 acres of sugarcane and rice. Now things do not appears worse but when the time of rabi production would come this country would be suffering from great oppression.

“Nothing is impossible” This nature is made for humans not the human for the nature. Life is the name of change and so with the environment. Man has the power to mold the nature in its own way. When climate change, human plan to cope up and take some measures against climate change like we do in summer and winter season. Why do not we fight against these climate change and global warming issues?

Many advanced technologies are performing their role in the breakthrough of this sector. Bioengineering which deals with challenges of change in climate and life by using sciences method. World constantly working on increasing per hectare productivity by injecting more dynamic seeds and fertilizers. Green houses have controlled temperature. This method has used since Roman’s time this house is built in such a way that it  traps the energy into the house and increase the temperature. Many other method are on their way to progress like crop rotation, seeds storage houses, gene-for-gene co-evolution, pollination, underground water supply system and two-field system.

Countries like US, Germany and UK have high rate of sowing in the given land more than once but in Pakistan only 31% of the total cropped land was sown more than once.

We need to bring more technological advancement in agriculture to encounter this climate change. More research institutes are required to work on different seeds, pesticides, fertilizers and most of all new resources of cultivating and harvesting the major crops. In 2009, Pakistan imported 1.5 million ton urea at $400 per ton whereas production cost is less than $175 per ton. Why do not we produce urea and give it to farmers at cheaper rates?

Dams are very essential for preventing this country from famine. Kala Bagh Dam is very essential because one-third of Sindh has been turned into drought. Sea has inundating the 2.7 million acres of land of Sindh. It has been researched that Pakistan has some precious sites where  big dams can be build which can produce over 30,000 MW of electricity with benefiting storage of water for irrigating land.

Pakistan is blessed with good fertilized land but we should used the tool of advance sciences and dig the precious treasure out from this wealthiest land. For this purpose, we should plan some new agricultural reforms to meet these challenges.

Now Pakistan is facing a very devastating flood but solution is also here in this disaster as the Holy Quran stated in Surah Alam-Nashrah verse No# 5 and 6 “So, with every difficulty there is relief. Indeed, with every difficulty is relief”. So, it depend upon us how do we deal with this problem and find out a way to out.

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