Sav­ing the crops in Balochis­tan

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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

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