The sowing of wheat was completed almost a month ago and the crop now badly needs the first feed of water to survive. “Serious consequences may develop for wheat crop if there is no rain during next 10 days,” cautioned Executive District Officer of Punjab Agriculture Department, Rawalpindi, Ghulam Mohammad Gill.
Agriculture in Potohar arid region depends on rain and cannot sustain in a long dry weather. Wheat growers in the region have expressed their worries and started offering special prayers for rainfall.
Special prayer for rain (Namaz-i-Istasqa) was offered at the Agriculture House in Lahore after Friday prayer which was attended by Punjab Minister for Agriculture Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh. The residents of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad also offered prayers for rain.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) forecast mainly dry weather during January. PMD Director-General Arif Mahmood told Dawn that there was a chance of mild scattered shower between January 6 and 10 in the Potohar region which might not cause any major impact on the current wheat crop.
This mild rain would at least bring some moisture in the soil sustaining only a few days. “We need a good rainfall during January,” said Chaudhry Karamdad, a wheat grower.
Arif Mahmood said that the met office would be able to issue estimates about the winter rainfall early next month but there were indications that winter rainfall could be below average.
The whole month of December and part of November remained dry as no rainfall occurred throughout the Punjab. There was only a light spell of rain on November 8, the second day of Eidul Azha in some areas. There was also a light drizzle in the federal capital in early December.
According to Ghulam Mohammad Gill, EDO Agriculture, a major rainfall in arid areas during the next two weeks could take the wheat sapling to the sprouting stage and give life to the wheat crop.