Farmers hopeful after rains bring canals to brim in Sindh
Monsoon’s onset in Sindh brought hopes to thousands of farmers who depend on the rains for their livelihood, easing concerns over southern region hit by drought.
Canals flowing at full capacity followed by the recent scattered rains have given hope to farmers in Sindh who can start their traditional activities.
In many areas, farmers have begun preparing their lands to cultivate rice and save standing crops like sugarcane and vegetables.
Reports gathered from different areas reveal that though the rain did not fill natural ponds and recharge underground water, it has helped standing crops like sugarcane, chilli and vegetables, which were under stress of dryness due to long-time water scarcity and heat.
The government seems to have neglected sugarcane, a major food and cash crop, which witnessed a lingering dispute between growers and sugar mill owners over settling the price of the commodity this year.
Due to this, many farmers have been reluctant to cultivate this major crop.
Only some leading farmers as always have cultivated sugarcane on larger patches of their lands, however, they encountered acute water shortage. Growers are uncertain about meeting the sugarcane target set by the government this year due to uncertain water availability.
Similarly, chilli and seasonal vegetable producers are also faced with hardships due to long-time unavailability of water in irrigation channels.
In this situation, early monsoon rain showers reportedly have benefited standing sugarcane, chilli, and vegetables.
This year farmers have experienced the worst kind of water scarcity and failed to cultivate major cotton crop in the entire province, except a few upper riparian farmers, who luckily received water through irrigation channels and installed tube wells. However, their crops, mainly vegetables, faced damages due to water scarcity and overall extreme heat.
Tail-end farmers have been unsure for a six-month long period after annual rotation started from December and January, and could not take the risk of cultivating seasonal crops.
Majority of farmers in rice producing areas failed to cultivate the crop till the month of May and early June, the favourable season for paddy. Now, after receiving fresh water in canals growers in some areas have a chance to cultivate this crop. Though it is too late farmers are optimistic that this major food crop product could help recover losses.
Rain showers have been termed helpful for vegetables standing in wide areas as well, which suffered losses due to prolonged water scarcity and were burnt in heat and dryness. This loss has impacted market prices negatively.
Due to short supply of vegetables from the province, the prices of almost all vegetables have crossed Rs100/ kilogram, which many consumers seemingly cannot afford to buy. What the prices will be in the coming days is anybody’s guess.
Farmers in arid zones like the Thar Desert, Kohistan and Kachho are also motivated and are preparing their lands, as monsoon is predicted to start within a few days.
The worst affected coastal farmers in Keti Bunder, Thatta district have also received water through their Odero Canal and hope to cultivate vegetables instantly to recover long time losses due to water scarcity.
Despite the promising situation, leading growers believe that many tail-end areas are yet to receive water through the irrigation system. This may impact overall cultivation of crops and productivity.
Noor Muhammad Thahimore from Jati area in the coastal area of Sujawal district said the water situation was still uncertain.
“Since we are living at the extreme tail-end, farmers are waiting to receive water for agriculture. Many farmers have established rice nurseries on tube well water and are preparing to cultivate the major crop if they receive canal water without further delay,” he added.
He believes that more rains were needed to recharge groundwater, as land has remained parched for a long time.
This would also benefit communities that live farther from the irrigation system, Thahimore said.
For the Delta communities, even a slight improvement in the river water level is an occasion to celebrate. Hundreds of the community people come together to celebrate fresh water every year when the delta receives more water and benefits the communities on islands and remote villages.