THE ‘early Rabi crop’ season has started while the rainwater in inundated fields in Dadu district has not been drained out, keeping the growers worried about when and how to cultivate wheat, vegetables and other seasonable crops.
A paddy grower from Mehar, Kazi Shafiq Ahmed Mahisar, said that breaches of Simm Nullas and waterways damaged during recent rains were not plugged by irrigation department and the Wapda. It is not possible to drain out rainwater accumulated in fields till January because the stagnant water had no natural path to flow out.
A small farmer Abdul Rahim from Dadu taluka said he had sold some jewellery of his wife to purchase paddy seed and fertiliser, and cultivated paddy on his 14 acres. The crop on 12 acres was damaged in the recent rains and he had suffered huge losses. The left over crop would not cover even the expenses of fertiliser used in crop cultivation.
The crop on 12 out of 14 acres was inundated and water was standing in his fields. Nobody was ready to purchase his damaged paddy on the remaining two acres, he said. If the government drained out water from his land, he could sow wheat and Juar to make up for his losses, he added.
Ghulam Ali Arain, a trader from Dadu town, said that paddy rates would rise within 10 to 15 days because of damage to the crop in lower Sindh and some parts of Dadu district in upper Sindh. He said that he was purchasing damaged crop from growers at Rs600-650 per maund.
President of Sindh Abadgar Board, Dadu, Dharam Das stated that the Rabi season had started but the accumulated water, if not drained out, would affect wheat target for 2011-12. A target of 2.2 million bags of wheat was set by the food department for Dadu district and 1.9 million bags were procured from the growers in 2010-11. Besides, some two million wheat bags were purchased by traders of other parts of Sindh from the district the same year.
He said growers had already suffered losses as 30 per cent paddy crop was damaged in Dadu district. If water was not flushed out from the inundated areas, the loss to growers would be colossal in Rabi season. Dharam Das said the season for cultivating wheat would end by November 30 and if cultivated late, the yield would suffer to a great extent.
On directives of President Asif Ali Zardari, a camp was set up in Dadu to supervise the process of dewatering from various parts of the district.
Pir Mazhar ul haq, Senior Sindh Minister, who had also set up a camp to supervise the process, said: “A total of 0.3 million acres were inundated in the district”. He said that paddy, cotton and vegetables on 1,53,000 acres out of 0.3 million acres were completely damaged..
He said 70 per cent water was drained out from all towns of the district and the process was continuing. “Rainwater from all fields will be drained out within 30 days in urban and rural areas of the district and growers will be able to cultivate wheat and vegetables,” he said. “Heavy machines are being used to flush out water from fields in Phulji, Sita, Piarogoth, Khudabad, Radhan, Mehar and Johi areas.”
He said that DCO Dr Niaz Abbasi and MPAs and MNAs were supervising their areas and growers had started cultivating wheat on the right side of the River Indus of Dadu district.
Chairman of Rice Mills Association, Sindh-Balochistan, Arif Mahisar, said local traders and owners of rice mills were buying paddy from growers at Rs800-900 per maund in Larkana, Qambar Shahdadkot, Jaccobabad, Shikarpur, Ghotki and Sukkur districts of upper Sindh and also north part of Dadu district.
He said paddy prices would rise with increase in its rates in international market. He demanded of the Pasco to set up procurement centres earlier to purchase damaged paddy.
General Secretary of Sindh Abadgar Board Mehmood Nawaz Shah said that Kharif crops including paddy were affected in parts of flood protective embankment, Mehar, Johi, Radhan, Dadu and Mehar. Rainwater was still standing in some areas. He said that some 20-30 per cent of paddy crop was inundated in lower and Upper Sindh in recent rains.
There were problems for Rabi crops in rain-affected parts of Dadu, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Tando Allahyar, Badin and Umerkot districts. He feared that water would remain in rain-affected low lying areas beyond January next year affecting cultivation of wheat. Wheat production could suffer this Kharif season and the yield could be less than achieved last year, he said.
He suggested that cultivation of sunflower would be favourable for growers in rain-affected areas of Sindh which could be cultivated in January and would take 120 days for preparation for harvesting.