Saving the crops in Balochistan
The Kharif crop cultivated in Pakistan is composed of major cash crops such as rice, cotton and sugarcane besides maize and millets. The Kharif crop is the autumn harvest (also known as the summer or monsoon crop) in the sub-continent. Pakistan enjoys a richly diverse range of cash crops grown in the Kharif season, making up a sufficient part of the GDP. Importantly, all the three major Kharif crops i.e. rice, cotton and sugarcane need excessive amounts of water and are cultivated on irrigated land due to less rainfall in the country. But in the aftermath of the 2010 super flood crisis, the irrigation system in the country has been severely damaged.
Balochistan, being a plateau region has long remained under critical issues of water conservation with reference to Kharif crops. To add to the long drought hovering over Balochistan, in the 2010 floods the province reportedly became a victim of unauthorized floodwater diversion and breaching of embankments, barrages and canals, resulting in overflowing rivers.
A close review of the major Kharif crops of Balochistan reveals that cotton is limited to a few hundred acres of land, being not a major product, while pulses are unirrigated crops that await rainfall in the JulyAugust period. The third crop, rice, is significant with reference to Balochistan, but the major damages in the Kirther canal and Tori bund have caused extreme devastation to the rice crops particularly in Jaffarabad division. Other afflicted areas are Nasirabad and Dera Allah Yar.
This dismal picture reflects the need for immediate action to be taken for the Kharif crops which have a sowing period from March to June. The economic loss and food shortage faced by the rural farmers of the province needs to be compensated in face of the discrepancies in water distribution and availability of a good market for this produce.
However, the orders issued by the Supreme Court for immediate repairs have brought considerable relief.
The irrigation system in Balochistan has suffered from the unbalanced usage of water resulting in huge losses. Recent meetings of agricultural and economic officials with the ambassador of the Netherlands stressed on the need for dams for protecting the livelihoods and extensive scientific research on water management