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Jacobabad: floodwater may hit next crop

December 15, 2012

THIS is apropos of Faiza Illyas’s report on floodwater in Jacobabad that may hit the next crop (Dec 8).

As a matter of fact, landlords in our area and Jacbaobad taluka do not force farmers to pay for the expenses incurred on the crop as they know the crop has been destroyed by recent rains/floods. All farmers have moved to safer places because about four-feet-high water is still standing in the area , with no speedy drainage system. It may not be cleared until next March.

This means two crop seasons of Kharif and Rabbi are lost -- a big loss for growers. They have been facing such losses since the 2010 floods in Jacobabad as a result of a breach in the Tori bund of Guddu Barrage that destroyed thousands of acres, as well as caused a great loss of human lives, cattle and homes.

Jacobabad is the largest rice-growing district in upper Sindh (mainly Irri 6 rice), with a cultivating area of about 150,000 acres. According to the FAO rice monitor, the August floods damaged nearly 400,000 tons of paddy, mostly in Sindh and Balochistan.

Further, the landlord in upper Sindh pays, in advance, all expenses and taxes for ploughing, seed, fertiliser and sowing labour charges from the beginning till the crop is ready for ‘batai’, whereby the farmer takes half of the crop and the landlord his share of half and expenses are shared.

Agriculture is the only industry in which the labourer (farmer) becomes equal partner of the produce. Since the 2010 super floods in Jacobabad most farmers have left their respective landlords, along with Takawi loan of the landlord, to other places in search of jobs.

The present 2012 floods in Jacobabad is mainly due to the Hair Din canal, commonly known as ‘Sim Shakh’, built by Wapda as a drain canal and owned by the Balochistan government, with its left bank on Balochistan and the right bank on the Sindh side.

This year the massive influx of floodwater from the adjacent Nasirabad and Jafferabad districts of Balochistan hit the Hair Din canal and washed away its banks.

The water gushed into the Sindh side of UC Nawra of taluka, Jacoabad, destroying the ripe paddy crop on thousands of acres. Thousands of people were rendered homeless and they look for help in this cold weather, without tents, warm clothes, food and medicines.

Where is the government machinery? Where are our elected representatives? Where is the Provincial Disaster Management which received huge funds for this purpose? Only a few NGOs are seen doing something, but most of them are not operating due to lack of trust.

I request the authorities concerned to strengthen the Hair Din canal, b) drain out water immediately and c) provide relief to the affected. Moreover, if the government is not willing to compensate the growers for their losses, it should at least provide interest-free agriculture loans and seed and fertiliser at subsidised rates, with monitoring of committees composed of the district management, growers and agriculture chamber representatives.

PERVEZ NABI OSTO President, Sindh Chamber of Agriculture Jacobabad