LAHORE: In the wake of the massive damage caused to crops by the monsoon rains and floods, different organisations have urged the government to extend financial help to affected farmers to enable them to sow the next crop.

Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP) Director Farooq Bajwa says that the record-breaking rains have caused 30 per cent losses to the agriculture sector as compared to the previous year’s output.

He says that all crops, including maize, fodder and cotton, have been badly damaged due to inclement weather, adding that small farmers are in a very precarious condition due to massive damage to their standing crops and they are unable to sow new crops unless they are given financial help or seed and other farm inputs.

Aamer Hayat Bhandara, co-founder of the Agriculture Republic, a think-tank, says that rains hit the growers at a time when Kharif crops were at the flowering stage.

He says the paddy crop was at the pollination stage when it was hit by heavy rains and it is likely to have lower yield. Similarly, he says, cotton and date palm growers have also been hit by the weather.

He says that small and medium-scale farmers are usually dependent on commission agents (arhtis) and in the absence of crop insurance most of them have to rely on loans given by arhtis for a longer term.

Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF) vice-president Jahan Ara Watoo says that flooding, coupled with an expected hike in prices of raw materials, has set off alarm bells in the agriculture sector.

The floods have caused a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions as the ongoing monsoon has doomed the farmers, particularly women growers, she says.

Ms Watoo notes the exact losses of livestock are yet to be determined as most of the people have been evacuated to safer places, but a majority of the cattle have been washed away by floodwaters.

She says that rice and cotton growing areas of Sindh and south Punjab are the worst affected, while mango orchards and red chilies farms in province have also been inundated.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2022

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