THIS is with reference to the article “Pakistan’s rice-water dilemma” (B&F, May 13) according to which, Pakistan’s rice plantation has increased from 2.57 million hectares to 2.62 million hectares, a growth of 40 per cent, in the last 12 years. In the meantime, water per person availability has gone below 1,000 metre cube. In 1947, it was around 5,000 metre cube per person per year.

The wheat farmers these days may be thinking of switching over to rice or sugarcane owing to the current wheat price issue. Both rice and sugarcane are water-guzzlers compared to wheat. There used to be a ban on rice cultivation in upper Sindh area, and wheat and cotton fields were a common sight.

Wheat has completely vanished today and one can only see sugarcane and rice from Rohri to Ubaro, which is the last town on Sindh-Punjab border. Due to this practice, the impact on water table has been appreciable and the quality of water has depleted. While the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan is optimistic based on six months’ exports of five million tonnes, amounting to $3 billion. But in reality we are exporting our virtual water. Experts can suggest other crops using our depleting water resources, frugally.

Though I am no expert, I think we have a lot of potential for flowers. We can grow our local roses, and, instead of exporting petals, we must add value and export their fragrances. Damask roses, which originated in Damascus, are exported by Turkiye and Bulgaria, and they earn billions of dollars.

Damask rose fragrance forms the main ingredient in perfumes. A small country like Kenya exports cut roses and earns close to a billion dollars. The Netherlands earns in excess of $10 billion. The world market is worth $20 billion. We should switch from rice to rose in the affected areas.

S. Nayyar Iqbal Raza
Karachi

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

China’s concerns
23 Jun, 2024

China’s concerns

Pakistan has no option but to neutralise militant threat to Chinese projects, as well as address its business and political stability concerns.
War drums
23 Jun, 2024

War drums

If it is foolish enough to launch another war in Lebanon, Tel Aviv will be solely responsible for setting the Middle East on fire.
Balochistan budget
23 Jun, 2024

Balochistan budget

BALOCHISTAN’S Rs955.6bn budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 makes many pledges to the poor citizens of Pakistan’s...
Another lynching
Updated 22 Jun, 2024

Another lynching

The chilling alternative to not doing anything — which appears to be the state’s preferred option — is the advent of mob rule.
Tax & representation
22 Jun, 2024

Tax & representation

THE taxation measures outlined in the budget for the incoming fiscal year have triggered a lot of concern among ...
Life of the party?
22 Jun, 2024

Life of the party?

THE launch of Awaam Pakistan, a party led by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former finance minister...