JHANG: The sowing of the wheat crop which normally is at its peak from November to the first week of December has yet to gain any momentum in those parts of the district which were devastated by heavy rainfall and hailstorm late October and early November.

The rain destroyed the standing Kharif crops, particularly rice. Not very long ago, cotton was the main Kharif cash crop in the district but farmers gradually switched over to rice in the last two decades due to increasing vulnerability of the cotton crop to various deceases. Now, more than 80 percent of farmers plant rice in the kharif season, which commences a little after the harvesting of wheat crop. They are heavily dependent on the cash earned from the rice crop to sow the wheat crop.

This year, the deadly hailstorm followed by heavy downpour played havoc with the standing rice crop in 50 villages of tehsils Jhang, Shorkot and Athara Hazari.

The areas between rivers Jhelum and Chenab in Jhang tehsil were the hardest hit by the unusual onslaught as they suffered 50 to 60 percent of shortfall in yield while the government did not announce any relief package for them despite farmers’ repeated pleas. This year, the wheat cultivation area in rain-affected areas is showing a substantial decrease.

Farmers said that in the face of their deteriorated financial condition, they were compelled to cut investment on inputs, which should inevitably result in much reduced per acre yield.

“If the government still does not announce a reasonable relief package, we are all set to have a poor to very poor wheat crop this year,” said a farmer.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2019