LAHORE, Sept 15: Floods caused by hill torrents this month swept across 300,000 cotton acres in DG Khan, Rajanpur and Rojhan areas, and could bring provincial production down by 450,000 bales.

According to the initial assessments by farmer bodies and local official agencies, financial loss to farmers could cross Rs15 billion, if they lose around 450,000 bales at a ratio of 1.5 bales an acre – 100,000 bale costs around Rs3.2 billion at the current price factor.

These are just the initial estimates as water is still standing in some areas, making it difficult to measure the extent of damage for officials, but farmers insist that these figures represent the acreage already wiped out by the hill torrents.

“If one includes rain damages in adjacent districts, the final loss would turn out to be much higher,” says Rao Afsar from Rajanpur.

“They must declare the area calamity hit and come up with a compensation package because it would be hard for farmers to absorb that kind of loss,” he said.

The cost of production per cotton acre has crossed Rs40,000. Farmers have come under high debt. There may not be much of a difference of production in national context but individual framers are certainly ruined, and must be compensated,” he demanded.This is the most tragic for farmers and farming this year, says Mazhar Leghari – a farmer from DG Khan. The crop first was delayed because there was no water, then drought conditions hit the crop followed by the Cotton Leave Curl Virus (CLCV) and now hill torrents have swept the crop off its feet. At each stage, the farmers invested his huge financial and human resource to save the crop till the torrents came to deliver the final blow.

The government needs to compensate farmers because majority of local farmers are poor, and cannot take this kind of loss, he said.

“Instead of planning a safe passage for torrents, the federal government seems to be creating hurdles like the Kachi canal,” said a local official of DG Khan District government.

The canal is dug in pieces of four-kilometers each and with torrents; they become huge ponds with initial flows. Once filled, they add to the speed and quantum of water sweeping across the area.

Agricultural and other structures on routes of the torrents are additional problems, which only increase the damages. The government needs to take care of the construction in the areas, he demanded.

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