Farmers fear 50pc fall in wheat production

Post Source: Dawn – By M.B. Kalhoro – 01 Feb, 2010

LARKANA: Farmers’ leaders have expressed the fear that acute shortage of water in canals and prolonged power outages would seriously affect wheat production in Sindh. According to them, wheat output will decline by 50 per cent if adequate water is not released and power situation does not improve in 15 days.

Talking to this correspondent, Gada Hussain Mahesar, vice-president of Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB), said that wheat was usually sown on 2.4 million acres in the province and the crop needed to be watered four to six times from sowing to harvesting. He said that growers with land in the command areas of non-perennial canals and who relied on tubewells to irrigate land could not afford to buy diesel at high prices.

Their crop was in bad shape and farmers who relied on perennial canals might suffer losses if water situation did improve soon, Mr Mahesar said.

Punjab and Balochistan were getting adequate water and only Sindh was facing the crisis.

He said that Sindh’s secretary of irrigation had ignored growers concerns.

He said that the shortage of water would also affect oilseeds and sunflower crops.

If the situation did not improve, the government would have to import wheat for domestic needs, he said.

Siraj Rashdi, president of the Larkana chapter of Sindh Chamber of Agriculture, also said the situation was alarming for crops.

He said that water flowing at a low level in the perennial canals would not reach the mouth of the watercourses to be used for irrigation.

Releasing a little water in canals was a ruse to deceive farmers, Mr Rashdi said.

He said that power outages, non-functioning of many SCARP tubewells and increase in prices of diesel had caused irreparable damage to the standing wheat crop.

He also said that non-availability of potash fertiliser which makes wheat stem strong was another problem.

“We do not have enough stocks of certified wheat seed and growers had to use low quality seed which added to the problem because of lack of adequate water,” he said.

Due to government’s policy of enhancing the procurement rate of wheat to Rs950 per 40kg, a large number of growers cultivated wheat but now they felt that they had been cheated, he said.

April, the month of harvest, was drawing near but water release was not in sight, Mr Rashdi said.

He said the shortage would also adversely affect sugarcane cultivation.

Mr Mahisar and Mr Rashdi said that lack of rain in Sindh this season would also affect the wheat crop.

They requested the government to arrange early release of water in perennial canals, uninterrupted power supply for tubewells and repair of SCARP tubewells to save growers from further losses.

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