Floods cause immense damage to Pakistani agriculture

11:42, August 22, 2010      

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Massive floods in Pakistan that have killed up to 1,600 people, left 20 million homeless and destroyed crops over an estimated area of more than 1.64 million hectares, farmers and officials told Xinhua.

But some of the concerned government officials say that the exact damage to crops is not to be assessed yet finally because more damages are expected as the flood wave is not over.

Agriculture experts and observers estimated that Pakistan would have to import three million cotton bales as the floods have damaged more than two million bales over the cotton crop area of 280,000 hectares.

Pakistan, in April, hoped to produce 14 million bales of cotton in the 2010/11 season, compared with about 12.7 million bales the previous financial year 2009/10.

"We have carefully estimated that cotton crop of 2 to 2.5 million bales valuing 75 to 80 billion rupees (1 U.S. dollar equals 85 Pakistani rupees) got destroyed. Which will be the most damaging factor to the economy and will also affect the export of textile products," Arif Hussain, an agriculturist from Punjab province told Xinhua on Friday.

Hussain was hopeless for any recovery and said, "This target is unachievable now and we shall have to import three million bales to make up for the shortfall."

A Pakistani cotton bale weighs 170 kg. Despite being the world' s fourth biggest cotton producer, Pakistan annually imports around 2 million bales to feed its textile industry.

Pakistan, a country that is already facing white sugar crises and had imported a total of 525,000 tonnes of sugar during August, will also have to buy another big quantity as the floods had damaged sugar cane crop of over 80,000 hectares and of worth 600 million dollars.

Last year, Pakistan could produce little more than three million tonnes of white sugar against an annual demand of 4.2 million tonnes. The next crop, due in November, was expected to produce about 3.8 million tonnes of white sugar before the floods struck.

Sources from Pakistan's federal food ministry and farmer association estimated carefully on Friday that the output of refined sugar would fall by 500,000 tonnes in coming season after a splash flood destroyed a big quantity of the crop.

Market gurus are expecting that in the months to come the cost of sugar would increase many times around 125 to 130 rupees per kg almost double than that of now.

According to the officials at the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, the flood caused a huge damage of about 5 billion U. S. dollars to the country's major crops and its livestock that has put the agrarian economy and food security in peril.

The latest data from the ministry reveals that country lost paddy crop (rice crop) of worth 247 million dollars and the crop of maize of 259 million dollars.

Apart from the damage to the major crop, a huge loss of over 518 million dollars was caused to fruits, fodder and vegetables.

In addition, flood damaged the wheat stocks of around 200 million dollars across the country, 44,896 tonnes in Punjab, 80, 823 tonnes in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) got totally damaged whereas 5,41,696 tonnes of wheat in southern province Sindh is feared to have been damaged as the flood is hitting the region.

The wheat seed stock with the farmers community had also been washed away by floods and they have no seed for sowing in next season which will create the most desperate condition for the farmers.

Hamid Malhi, eminent farmer and chief of Punjab Water Council, demanded the government that they should provide wheat seed, fertilizer, tube-well engines and high speed diesel to the affected farmers of the four provinces free of cost enabling them to get new crops by next season.

Flood also caused the quick crises of fresh vegetables and fruit in the country. Pakistan had already started to import 40 trucks of potatoes every day from India since Aug. 16.

Other than the losses of crops government will have to solve the disputes of agricultural lands demarking because the flood had finished ground marking for land division. This problem may trigger many disputes among farmers.

Along with the agriculture country's livestock sector had also faced a huge loss as the 158,412 animals were perished by flood.

According to survey by the Livestock Department, cattle heads worth of 106 million dollars were lost only in the northwestern province.

Sher Mohammad, Director General Livestock Department, told local media on Friday that approximately 427,000 animals in 11 districts were affected while reports of the four remaining districts were still being awaited.

Officials say that dairy, poultry and fish production had also been affected, adding that they needed at least 2.3 million dollars for treatment of sick animals.

Around 70 fix and 36 mobile medical camps are reportedly working in KP to provide treatment to cattle with at least 6,620 officials working in these camps vaccinating the animals.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), on Thursday, warned that tens of thousands of more animals would die of starvation in Pakistan if emergency feed and veterinary support measures were not provided in time.

The initial statistics also show that over 1.3 million livestock is facing severe feed shortages. Livestock is an invaluable asset to rural families in Pakistan in terms of meat and milk production.

Source: Xinhua


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