Farm­ers hope­ful af­ter rains bring canals to brim in Sindh

Enterprise - - National news -

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.

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