THE coming Rabi crops are likely to show good performance if water availability is improved and provision is made for distribution of high-yield seeds, unadulterated fertilisers and unhindered agriculture credit.

Agriculture experts believe that timely recovery of the agriculture sector in the province depends on early draining out of floodwater from inundated farmlands, rehabilitation of damaged irrigation network and roads and provision of unhampered financial support and free farm inputs.

Although Sindh Minister for Irrigation Jam Saifullah Dharejo claimed that the flood-hit irrigation network would be restored by end of December, the situation remained unpromising as most of the breaches have not been repaired as yet.

Sindh irrigation department officials admit that rehabilitation of irrigation networks is very slow. “Though 80 percent floodwater has been flushed out of the flood-ravaged areas, only 660 out of some 2,138 breaches have been plugged so far and floodwater is still flowing through 1,478 breaches,” a senior irrigation official said quoting a report. But, Mehfooz Ursani, general secretary of the Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB), rejected official claims that 80 per cent floodwater had been drained out. He said that despite passage of four months since the flood hit Sindh, much of the affected areas still remains inundated seriously affecting Rabi sowing.

Sindh government has announced support packages and low mark-up loans for flood-hit farmers and drawn out plans to rehabilitate the damaged irrigation network to restore agro-based activity. But, progress is very slow, he said.

Tight financial situation of the provincial government is also hindering the launching of support packages for farmers and expediting process of plugging irrigation network breaches.

Sindh Agriculture Secretary Agha Jan Akhtar hopes that wheat sowing target will be achieved, because major wheat growing areas on the left bank of the Indus River remained unaffected during the floods.

“Efforts are being made to encourage the left bank growers to grow more wheat. Initiatives have already been taken to resolve the cane price issue between the growers and the millers,” he remarked.

The agriculture secretary said that minor crops sowing was also in full swing in the lowing-lying areas on the right side of Indus River, from where water has been pumped out and hopes for good sowing of minor crops particularly pulses and vegetables and fodder were bright.

Amin Thebo, director crop reporting, said that sowing of vegetables, have recently picked up pace in left bank areas that were under cane crop.

“Reports of wheat sowing and vegetable cultivation have poured in recently from the scattered cane growing areas in the right bank areas, where fields have been cleared of cane,” he remarked.

While the floodwater is likely to be flushed out completely by March 2011, improving Kharif sowing.

Sindh’s agriculture has suffered enormous damages in recent floods and rains but no significant measures have been taken so far for its recovery.

Overall damage suffered by agriculture has been estimated at 2.3 billion dollars, according to provincial government’s revised figures. “The province’s paddy crop sown on around 0.7-0.8 million acres was washed away, causing losses to the tune of Rs60 billion,” said a provincial agriculture department official.

Sindh agriculture department officials estimate production of around 663,000 tons of rice in the province against the target of 2.039 million tons for Kharif 2010. The shortfall of 60 per cent is because of the fact that rice on around 850,000 acres, against the target of 1.586 million acres, had been washed away by floods.

The cotton crop, sown on either side of the Indus River, was also hit by the flood on the right bank.

Agriculture department officials said the province, which achieved a record production last year, has experienced short crop this year by around 13.63 per cent to 3.321 million bales recorded till December 15, 2010 as compared to 3.845 million bales in the corresponding period of last year.

As far as sugarcane is concerned, it was cultivated on much less area in the province due to water scarcity. Unattractive support price, ill-and exploitative attitude of sugar millers and lack of government interest has compelled the growers to cut the area under cane cultivation.

Despite water shortages, rains and unfavorable climatic conditions during FY10, the province’s agriculture sector is expected to show a reasonable performance. Contrary to expectations. The performance of minor crops is to remain more or less satisfactory due to switch over of area from major (for example: sugarcane) to minor crops.

THE coming Rabi crops are likely to show improved performance only if water availability is improved and provision are made for high-yield seeds, unadulterated fertilisers and unhindered agriculture credit loans.

Agriculture experts say that timely recovery of the agriculture sector and its bright outlook depends on early draining out of floodwater from inundated farmlands, rehabilitation of damaged irrigation network and roads and provision of unhampered financial support and free farm inputs.

Although Sindh Minister for Irrigation Jam Saifullah Dharejo claimed tat the flood-hit irrigation network would be restored by end of December, the situation remains unpromising For, most of the breaches have not been repaired as yet.

Officials in the provincial irrigation department admit that rehabilitation of irrigation networks is very slow. “Though 80 percent floodwater has been flushed out of the flood-ravaged areas, only 660 out of some 2,138 breaches have been plugged so far and floodwater is still flowing through 1,478 breaches,” a senior irrigation official said quoting a report.

But, Mehfooz Ursani, general secretary of the Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB), rejected official claims that 80 per cent floodwater had been flushed out.

He said that despite passage of four months since the flood hit Sindh, much of the affected areas still remain inundated. Therefore, Rabi sowing would suffer seriously.

The provincial government has announced support packages and low mark-up loans for flood-hit farmers and drawn out plans to rehabilitate the damaged irrigation network to restore agro-based activity. But, progress is very slow, he said.

Tight financial situation of the Sindh government is also hindering the launching of support packages for farmers and expediting process of plugging the breaches in the irrigation network.

Sindh Agriculture Secretary Agha Jan Akhtar hopes that wheat sowing target will be achieved, because major wheat growing areas on the left bank of the Indus River remained unharmed during the floods.

“Efforts are being made to encourage the left bank growers to grow more wheat. Initiatives have already been taken to resolve the cane price issue between the growers and the millers,” he remarked.

The agriculture secretary said that minor crops sowing was also in full swing in the lowing-lying areas on the right side of Indus River, from where water has been pumped out and hopes for good sowing of minor crops particularly pulses and vegetables and fodder were bright.

Amin Thebo, director crop reporting, said that sowing of major Rabi crops, particularly vegetables, have recently picked up pace in left bank areas that were under cane crop.

“Reports of wheat sowing and vegetable cultivation of Rabi season have poured in recently from the scattered cane growing areas in the right bank areas, where fields have been cleared of cane,” he remarked.

Agriculture experts said that although 80 per cent of low-lying areas on the right bank are being claimed to have been brought under Rabi crops while the floodwater is unlikely to be flushed out completely before March 2011. Nevertheless, chances are bright for Kharif sowing of FY 2011.


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