“Unimaginable” was the word used by the UN Secretary General when monitoring the air devastation in Pakistan. Similar statements like “Climate change has affected Pakistan far more than its contribution to global carbon emissions; no major disaster like this has ever been seen due to climate change; justice must be served in Pakistan” come from world leaders who worry about the loss of Pakistan to climate change.
But things and circumstances unimaginable to the world are imaginable habitual events and have become our way of life, whether it’s an encroached river bed or small-scale water mismanagement in the farm or village level or as recent floods and rains at provincial or national level.
Pakistan has been one of the countries most affected by climate change in recent years, but we have been entangled in other political and social issues instead of aligning our governance and management of key issues.
It is estimated that the damage caused by the floods and rains is 30 to 40 billion dollars, with the loss of approximately 4.5 million acres of crops and the death of approximately one million head of livestock.
These were the engines of their financial and social livelihoods. Along with the loss of crops and livestock in devastated communities, infrastructure was also destroyed and warehouses lost food, medicine and grain.
About 500 children died in these floods. There are 650,000 pregnant women and girls, of whom 73,000 are expected to give birth in September and are mostly midwives and directly or indirectly associated with the agricultural sector.
Pakistan’s status has changed from an agricultural exporting country in the past to a net importing country, whether it is wheat, seeds, agrochemicals, machinery or even edible oil. The Kharif crops of the farmers have been devastated in a large part of the country whether it is rice, cotton, sugar cane or some vegetables. Apart from crops, majority of inputs for upcoming crops have also been destroyed or flushed with rain water, machinery like tractors will also require extensive and costly repairs to prepare before crops Rabi if water is drained or evaporated and the fields are ready to be cultivated, which also requires good investments.
Fodder in major regions of Sindh, Balochistan and South Punjab has been destroyed in recent weeks, creating an imbalance in demand and supply for the country’s largest livestock and dairy market. in Karachi. It not only increased the demand for fodder and silage, but also transmitted price pressure to the common man in terms of higher milk and meat prices.
Maize is an important crop of Pakistan and comparatively the contribution of autumn maize (cultivated in July) is generally lower than that of spring cultivated maize in terms of area and production, which means the demand for fodder and silage in the devastated area and nearby markets. will increase the demand for green crop, creating a grain shortage, ultimately challenging the poultry industry in the form of animal feed, leading to higher prices for poultry meat and eggs due to the higher cost of production high or farming community.
Wheat is Pakistan’s most important staple food and we have faced severe shortage in previous years due to lack of farmer interest, weaker or untimely announcement of a support price, a drop in productivity due to the unavailability or black marketing of phosphorus and urea. fertilizer and Pakistan has to import wheat at very high prices simply because of poor governance and local mismanagement in the country.
Again this year, I fear that we may face more serious challenges due to the challenges associated with the impacts of climate change in the form of raisins, floods and displacement.
What can be done immediately?
After the 18th Amendment, ensuring national food security is the responsibility of the federal government. Agriculture and livestock as well as dairy products are the responsibility of provincial governments. No government, state or agency alone can support devastated communities; people must own not only the state, but also the nation. We need to understand that agriculture is not the only farmer, the whole agricultural value chain is involved in it, from extension agents to input suppliers and from processors to retailers.
Kharif crops are destroyed and farmers are already in debt as banks are less involved in lending for agricultural inputs and middleman more in case of small and medium farmers so farmers are already informally in debt with higher interest rates for already devastated countries. crops and for Rabi the land is not ready because of stagnant water in the fields and the farmer has no money on hand.
Water experts and irrigation ministries, with the support of the federal government, should immediately start thinking about solutions to prepare the land and soil for growing rabi.
The government should immediately push the banks to grant interest-free loans to all farmers in the devastated areas for their next harvests in order not only to buy inputs but also machinery. International and domestic companies of agricultural input suppliers, including seeds, fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture and drug, feed and fodder companies in the livestock sectors, should be invited to share their profits with their devastated stakeholders (the farmers), who have been the ultimate buyers of their products for many years, generating profits for these companies.
The key short-term decision is to immediately drain water to the fields in the coming weeks to prepare the land for cultivation of Rabi crops, immediate supply of the farmer package including high yielding inputs and seeds and construction a strong relationship between research institutions, universities and extension to support farmers and rural workers in the fields. Researchers and experts should be immediately deployed to identify crops and seeds to be grown in flood-affected areas to achieve the bulk of productivity with less inputs and production costs to reduce the bill. the country’s import in these difficult times.
Farmers aren’t really concerned about statements from world or national leaders, they just know they are being devastated by heavy rains, floods and weather anomalies and are looking for financial support to feed themselves, their children and their animals. , save their lives. for the future.
(The writer is a progressive farmer from Pakpattan)
Posted in Dawn, September 17, 2022