Archive for the ‘Good Governance’ Category

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s vulnerability to floods

Post Source: Dawn Economic and Business Review

By Mohammad Ali Khan

 

The unprecedented floods of 2010 have exposed the poor water management and flawed traditional approach to handling the situation. The flash floods resulted in record human and material losses, pushing more people into the poverty trap. — File Photo

 

 

 

WHILE rapid changes in the weather pattern have increased vulnerabilities caused by natural disasters, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has yet to come up with an integrated approach to handle floods in future.

The unprecedented floods of 2010 have exposed the poor water management and flawed traditional approach to handling the situation. The flash floods resulted in record human and material losses, pushing more people into the poverty trap.

Prof Dr Jamal Khan, Chairman Water Management Department of Agriculture University, Peshawar, says the flood management and turning disasters into an opportunity, have never been the government priority. With limited resources, the provincial government prefers to focus on its short-term projects, which include construction of temporary embankments.

“Flood management has to be a priority, given the rapid changes in the weather pattern,” opines Khan, arguing “the last year’s floods have badly damaged the irrigation system while naturally the focus was on its reconstruction and restoration.”

According to the Damage and Need Assessment worked out by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, the KP irrigation sector remains one of the worst hit, as the flash floods damaged at least 17 canal systems and seven embankments just within a few days’ time.

The vulnerability caused by similar incidents in the future needs to be overcome by an integrated approach for flood management, Shakeel Qader Khan, Director General Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), tells Dawn.

“Unfortunately we have not yet been able to invest much of the resources in the flood management system,” opines Khan, arguing further that there is neither enough investment in water storage nor in effective regulation and early warning.

“For the safety against floods, there are no formal protective arrangements across KP except for Dera Ismail Khan along the Indus River,” he says.

According to the irrigation department, the length of total embankments on the major river system of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is hardly 286 kilometers, which was too badly damaged in last year’s floods. Under early recovery and short-term flood protection projects, according to a senior official, the provincial government has spent Rs2 billion on the most vulnerable spots along the major river systems.

The early warning system mainly relies on flood gauging through Wapda’s telemetry system and the obsolete system deployed by the provincial irrigation department. “The irrigation department can hardly provide 24-48 hours warning along the Swat River, 5-7 hours along Kabul and 36-48 hours along the Indus at DI Khan. Such forecast, however, does not help evacuation of vulnerable communities to safer locations as witnessed last year. There are no arrangements to forewarn vulnerable communities of flash flooding across the mountainous regions,” says the PDMA chief.

According to Dr Jamal, there has been very little investment in water storage that can reduce the vulnerability of floods and also contribute to the conservation of water for crops. This storage capacity has further been undermined by massive silting that naturally reduces their flood impact mitigation capacities. There are only two reservoirs in KP, Warsak and Tarbela. The former has lost its storage capacity long ago, while the live storage capacity of the later has gone down to 6.77 MAF from its original capacity of 9.68 MAF, a 30 per cent decrease during the last 36 years, he argues.

There are three major head works including Munda, Amandara and Kurram Garhi in KP, which regulate water discharge to different tributaries of major river systems and canals. However, the 2010 floods has badly damaged this infrastructure too.
The performance of these facilities is doubtful even if subjected to slightly higher pressures than their designed capacity.

Shabir Hussain, a specialist in watershed management, says that with the massive changes in the weather pattern, the entire Peshawar valley has entered into the monsoon range.

According to him, the upper regions of KP constitute the catchment area of River Indus, the main river of the province. The Indus along its course is joined by its tributaries originating from the Northern Areas and some in the province like the River Kabul, Swat and Kurram and numerous minor mountain water channels.

Unfortunately, the river systems are not covered by the flood monitoring mechanism and, therefore, any major water overflow is detected late, practically close to Tarbela only, leaving little time for preparedness, he says.

Monsoon hazards in KP emerge as a result of heavy precipitation and subsequent flooding along the Swat, Kabul and Indus rivers and also through flash flooding in numerous hill torrents across the province. However, the simultaneous occurrence of riverine and flash floods, heavy precipitation and the cloud burst phenomenon can worsen the impacts of the monsoons.

Hussain recommends adopting integrated approach for flood management, major element of which is to build water reservoirs to conserve water for ground water recharge and also for crops.

“Look if we have at least three or four water reservoirs in upper parts of the province, from where flash floods originate, and if these water storage infrastructure is interlinked with each other, the vulnerability caused by floods can be substantially reduced,” opines Khan, saying due attention is also needed to be paid for improving water regulation capacity of major head works, supported by an early warning system equipped by the latest radars and satellites.

For Dr Jamal, however, the biggest impediment in water management is the lack of coordination among different government agencies.

“Just take for example, water management is a joint responsibility of the irrigation and agriculture departments, but they work in isolation and have no interaction,” remarks Dr Jamal.

Marketing constraints limiting sunflower production

April 29, 2009

‘Pakistan Times’ Business & Commerce Desk

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is producing about one third of its edible oil requirements and the rest is met through import at a cost of billions of rupees each year.

Around 187.1 million tones of edible oil at a cost of Rs. 109 billion was imported during 2007-08, while oil seeds costing Rs. 28 billion were also imported during the same period.
Substantial amount of our valued foreign exchange is spent on importing edible oil which not only brings hardship for the people but also burdened the national economy. The need is to find other means and ways to reduce the import edible oil bill including promotion of sunflower and oilseed cultivation in the country.

According to an official Ministry of Food and Agriculture here on Tuesday, the government was spending on sunflower research and motivating the farmers community to make the country self-sufficient in edible oil through increase in cultivation of this crop. Around 9,000 acres of land will be brought under sunflower cultivation in Sialkot, Daska, Pasrur and Sambrial tehsils this year.

He said sunflower, a non-traditional oilseed has the potential to bridge the gap that exists between the domestic demand and supply due to its high oil and protein contents. The official said certain marketing and production methods associated with this crop were being adopted to achieve the desired results and at the same time area and production of sunflower was being increased.

Sunflower seeds contain about 42 percent high quality edible oil and this crop is grown on an area of 2,56,000 hectares in Pakistan with a production of 3,59,000 tons sunflower seed and 1402 kg per hectare yield, he said.

This is low as compared to major sunflower growing countries like China, United States and Argentina but our per acre production is better than the developing countries, he said and added, the crop duration is such that it can be sandwiched between two cotton, rice or potato crops. So it has a great potential to make the country self sufficient in edible oil.

Due to rapid increase in population, the import of edible oil was increasing every year for fulfilling the domestic requirements.  Meanwhile, some growers said that small farmers were hesitating to cultivate the sunflower crop because of poor supporting price of their crop and this area is also needed immediate attention.

ASF helps chilli growers install solar dryers

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
By The News correspondent

LAHORE: Chilli farmers of Sindh have installed or are planning to install 588 small units of solar dryers for chilli drying on an experimental basis at an approx cost of Rs6.4 million. These farmers collectively produce approx 1,000 tonnes of chillies.

Agribusiness Support Fund (ASF) in partnership with Sindh Agriculture & Forestry Workers Coordination Organization (SAFWCO) Sindh Rural Support Program (SRSP) and local farmers has formed 29 Farmers Enterprise Groups consisting of 294 farmers to start the use of solar dryers for chillies.

ASF, SAFWCO and local farmers have laid the path for the successful resolution of the long-standing issues of chilli growers of Sindh.

Chilli is an important cash crop of the Sindh province, particularly in Kunri located in Umer Kot District. Production of red chilli in the province is 80,000 tonnes per annum, which accounts for around 86 per cent of the total red chilli production of Pakistan. Until fairly recently, this area was known as the chillies capital of the world.

However, the region is losing its importance as a chilli hub ever since its produce has started facing sanctions in the international markets. The imposition of sanctions is a result of poor harvest and post harvest practices which lead to contamination of the product and loss of colour due to the long duration (10 to 12 days) required for drying, which is carried out in the open fields.

Rainfall further exacerbates the problem since it results in the destruction of the harvested crop and also helps spur a fungal disease (the cancerous Aflotoxin) considered as one of the most serious food related health hazards.

In order to address the situation ASF entered into a dialogue with the local stakeholders, including growers, traders, processors and local NGOs. Subsequently ASF in partnership with SAFWCO, SRSP (Sindh Rural Support Program) and local farmers has formed 29 Farmers Enterprise Groups consisting of 294 Farmers. These farmers have installed or are planning to install 588 small units of solar dryers for chilli drying on an experimental basis at an approx cost of Rs6.4 million. These farmers collectively produce approx 1,000 tonnes of chillies.

The two participating farmers, Haji Ayub of village Khan Mohammad Kheskhilli and Ali shah of village Haji Matal Dharaijo revealed that they have full confidence in the performance of the solar dryers and have termed it a great success.

According to them the quality of the solar dried chillies has improved tremendously, especially after adopting technical advice of the ASF team, with respect to harvest and post harvest practices including washing of the produce before drying. The farmers were delighted to realize a 50 per cent increase in the price of their produce from Rs1800 per 40 kg to Rs2800 per 40 kg in the open market. Moreover, the drying time of the chillies has also been reduced from 12 days to five days resulting in substantial reduction in labour costs.

ASF is continuing efforts in collaboration with SAFWCO, local growers and research and educational institutions to scale-up the model and install larger units for the benefit of the farming community at large. It is pertinent to mention that these solar dryers have the potential to become a model simple and low-cost appropriate technology that may easily be replicated by small farmers of Sindh on a sustainable basis.

WFP survey shows food insecurity rife in Pakistan

 

By Dawn Correspondent
Tuesday, 28 Apr, 2009

food-insecurity1

 

The report revealed stark differences between the provinces – White Star photo.

 

 

ISLAMABAD: Food accounts for 60 per cent of total expenditures for the average farming households surveyed by the World Food Program (WFP) and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MINFA).

 

The findings of the baseline survey conducted by WFP and MINFA, released on Tuesday said that highest food insecurity in the country was in NWFP, FATA and Balochistan, whereas farming house-holds in Northern Punjab were the least food insecure.

 

The survey report has identified a number of constraints to crop (particularly wheat production), such as the high cost of agriculture inputs (mainly the seeds, fertilizers pesticides etc.) and inadequate access to affordable credit.

 

The unreliability of the water supply and low returns on investments are also among the issues faced by the farmers.

 

The survey was conducted during the period January to June 2008, in 1012 villages in all for provinces as well as in AJK, FATA and northern areas, in collaboration with MINFA and Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) and the Agriculture Policy Institute (API).

 

The focus of the survey was on the house hold food security conditions, scope for enhancing crop productivity and opportunities to increase income of small and medium resource poor farmers.

 

‘The data of the study confirms that education is a major determination factor in reducing household vulnerability and improving food security as educated family members were more likely to have higher incomes,’ said Wolfgang Herbinger, WFP country representative in Pakistan.

 

The report highlights that the majority of farmers use local, non- improved seeds and the fertilizer usage is much less than the recommended levels

 

It said that the productivity levels are well below in the country, however the highest yields are found in Northern Punjab.

 

In his comment over the report Secretary MINFA Muhammad Zia ur Rehman said that there was an urgent need to increase the supply of improved seeds.

 

‘Empowering small farmers and building their knowledge base through farmers field schools along with easy access to credit are the basic requirements for increasing agricultural output.’ He added.

 

The survey sad that off farm employment was most important for farming communities in Sindh, where 64 per cent of farm households rely on off farm employments as compared to the national average of 28 per cent.

 

The survey covered over 12,000 households in 26 districts throughout the country. The sample was randomly selected from four categories of farm households.

 

These categories were the landless, very small (0.5 – five acres), small (5-12) and medium (12-20).

 

The survey said that crop production in the first source of livelihood among the 71 per cent of the samples, followed by salary for eight per cent and livestock for seven per cent.

 

It said that most of the unskilled agriculture belong to the poorest categories of farming households.

 

The WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency and the UN’s frontline agency for hunger solutions. This year the WFP plans to feed around 90 million people in 80 countries. The total WFP program in Pakistan during the year 2009 was valued at $130 million to reach more than eight million poor people.

 

 

 

WFP, MINFA release baseline survey on food security

Staff Report DailyTimes

ISLAMABAD: The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MINFA) on Tuesday released the findings of the baseline survey for the national programme for food security and productivity enhancement of small farmers, known as Crop Maximisation Project Phase II (CMPII).

During January to June 2008, WFP conducted a benchmark survey in 1012 villages in all provinces as well as AJK, FATA and Northern Areas of Pakistan in collaboration with MINFA, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) and Agriculture Policy Institute (API). The focus of this survey was on the households’ food security conditions, scope for enhancing crop productivity, and opportunities to increase income of small and medium resource poor farmers.

“Empowering small farmers and building their knowledge through farmer field schools coupled with easy access to credit and farm inputs are pre-requisites for increasing agricultural production. Similarly, there is an urgent need to increase the supply of improved seeds,” Muhammad Zia-ur-Rehman, Secretary, MINFA said in his inaugural address.

The survey covered over 12,000 households in 26 districts throughout the country. The sample was randomly selected from four categories of farm households, i.e. landless, very small (0.5-5 acres), small (5-12 acres) and medium (12-20 acres).

The survey report identified a number of constraints to crop, particularly wheat production, such as high cost of agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilizer, pesticides), inadequate access to affordable credit, unreliability of water supply and low returns on investment.

“The data of the study confirm that education is a major determining factor in reducing household vulnerability and improving food security as educated family members are more likely to have higher incomes, send their children to school and afford improved housing and sanitary conditions”, said Wolfgang Herbinger, WFP Country Representative in Pakistan.

The baseline survey revealed that majority of farmers use local, non-improved seeds.

Fertilizer use is much below recommended levels, productivity levels were well below international standards. The highest yields were found in North Punjab.

Off farm employment was most important for farming communities in Sindh, where 64 percent of farm households rely on off farm employment as compared to a country average of 28 percent. Crop production was the first source of livelihood for 71 percent of the surveyed households, followed by salaries (8 percent) and livestock (7 percent).

Food accounts for 60 percent of total expenditures for the average farming household surveyed.

The highest food insecurity levels were found in NWFP & FATA and Balochistan, whereas farming households in North Punjab were least food insecure. Measured in terms of daily food consumption the number of food insecure households in North Punjab was five times less.

There was a significant correlation between poor food consumption and low literacy rate of households, the survey revealed. Most of the unskilled agricultural workers belong to the poorest category of farming households (64 percent fall within lowest wealth quintile).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Punjab strengthening education, agriculture’

April 28, 2009

 

* Shahbaz says country passing through critical phase
* Directs authorities to set up laboratories to conduct free hepatitis
tests

DailyTimes
Staff Report

LAHORE: The Punjab government is strengthening the sectors of education, agriculture and health on the basis of priority, Chief Minister (CM) Shahbaz Sharif said on Monday.

He was speaking at a meeting with Federal Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf at the CM Secretariat. Matters concerning development projects and alternate sources of energy were discussed during the meeting. The CM said solid steps were being taken to improve the province’s economic situation. He said the annual wheat procurement target had been increased by 6 million tonnes, adding that farmers would be given their due share of the produce.

Critical phase: Separately, Shahbaz said the country was passing through a critical phase of history and national solidarity was the need of the hour. He was attending a meeting with Punjab Rangers Director General Major General Muhammad Yaqub Khan. The CM was given a detailed briefing about the security steps being taken in the province. Shahbaz said the responsibilities of the law enforcement agencies had increased lately, adding that maintenance of law and order was the foremost responsibility of the government. He said a comprehensive strategy had been evolved to eliminate terrorism and extremism from the province.

Health: Separately, Shahbaz directed the authorities concerned to set up the Polymaraise Chain Reaction (PCR) laboratories for diagnosing Hepatitis in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, Faisalabad, Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalpur at a cost of Rs 40 million.

A Health Department spokesman said a PCR laboratory in Jinnah Hospital was already operational, while another was being set up at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. He said PCR laboratories were being set up at the Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Holy Family Hospital, DHQ Hospital in Rawalpindi, Nishtar Hospital in Multan, Allied Hospital in Faisdalabad, Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Rahim Yar Khan and Victoria Hospital in Bahawalpur.

2000 Tractors to be disbursed among poor cultivators under BTS: Food Minister

By Online News

ISLAMABAD:Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal has reiterated that Two-Thousand Tractors would be disbursed among the poor cultivators under Benazir Tractor Scheme (BTS) and in future Pakistan didn’t need to import Wheat, Potato, Tomato and Rice and every wheat grain will be purchased by the farmers while compensating their complains.

While making discussions on Agriculture policy in Senate’s session here Monday Senator Kalsoom Perveen stated that Cultivators would be delivered the promised green revolution in the country and urged on the House to enforce Agriculture Policy, pending since 1997 and further suggested to install laboratories for checking pesticides, as number of faked pesticides are in market that cause severe damages to crops.

Senator Naeem Hussain Chatta while participating in the discussion regarding Agriculture Policy stated that, no doubt this movement has been lifted in House with delay, yet it is still effective and urged on Government to keep check and balance over the fertilizer prices that have been escalating beyond the farmers’ purchasing power.

He also said that Wheat from the farmers has not been purchasing as middle men (Investors) are purchasing the crop from farmers on low prices and the Government also lacks storage capacity for wheat, as yielding of wheat has been achieved on record basis in Punjab and Sindh in the current season that could also be stored for next year.

Senator Gulshan Saeed suggested to address the practice of water theft by India and stressed on the Government to construct smaller dams, if it could afford to built mega dam in the country, as India has already constructed dams on three rivers of Pakistan and urged on the need to voice for the water issue with India at international forum to avert future drought threats.

Opposition Leader in House Wasim Sajjad said that seventy percent of Pakistan’s total population belonged to agriculture profession and urged on the Government to establish a proper mechanism to control demand and supply of food items in the country, as Balochistan has been abundant with the dry-fruits and if its productions to be controlled, its quality and production could be further enhanced for its exportation by constituting a committee comprised on skilled and professional people.

Senator Professor Ibrahim Khan said that Government should seek measures for development and progress of agriculture, as with the development of agro-sector number of Pakistan’s difficulties could be resolved automatically, because majority of Pakistan’s population depended on agriculture.

Maulana Ghafoor Haider said that India has restricted the flow of water in Pakistani rivers by constructing Baglihar Dam and in these circumstances Government should facilitate the farmers by providing electricity on subsidy rates for tube wells, while on other side the water level in Balochistan going below with every passing day.

Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture while concluding the discussion stated that being a Government of people, the incumbents had brought the pending movement of 2007 in House to held discussion and the Government has allocated Rs. 6 billions to provide electricity in Balochistan and about Rs. 42 billions loan of the province has been relieved.

He also informed the House that the Government had given a subsidy of Rs. 34 billion to the agriculture sector and subsidy on agriculture implements had also ended and soon power outages would also be concluded and all the complains as voiced by farmers regarding procurement of wheat will be addressed soon, as the purchasing targets for Punjab and Sindh have been increased by the Government.

Federal Minister further informed the House that in the last year Government disbursed Rs. 80 billions rupees to import Government from the foreign countries, but during the on going year the yielding of crop has break all past records and now Pakistan is now in the position to export wheat currently.

“Processing plants for mango and dates will be installed in the country, as Pakistan produces 40% of exported date in the world and the Government will soon start its work on smaller dams construction, “ said the Minister.

 

 

‘Action against those not paying farmers their due share’

* Chief Minister says rights of small-scale cultivators to be protected

Staff Report DailyTimes

LAHORE: Stern action would be taken against officials of the Food Department found guilty of paying the farmers anything less than Rs 950 for a 40 kilogramme wheat bag, Chief Minister (CM) Shahbaz Sharif said on Sunday.

He was talking to cultivators during his surprise visit to wheat procurement centres in Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan. He said the Punjab government had increased the wheat procurement target by 4 million tonnes to 6 million tonnes in the interest of small-scale cultivators.

Protection: Shahbaz said the government would continue to procure wheat from the cultivators for as long as they brought wheat to the centres. He said the rights of small-scale cultivators would be protected, adding that farmers must be given their due share of their produce. He also asked the cultivators about their problems and asked about the availability of gunny bags. He said the government would also pay the farmers for purchasing gunny bags in case they are not already available to them. The CM said wheat procurement was the responsibility of the Food Department, the Police Department, and the divisional and district administrations. He directed the commissioner to resolve the farmers’ problems on a priority basis. He directed the district administration to ensure transparency in the process of wheat procurement.

While listening to the complaints of cultivators, the CM said they could directly contact the mobile number (0345-8453355) to lodge a complaint regarding wheat procurement. He said all complaints would be immediately redressed. He inquired the cultivators about the behaviour of government staff associated with wheat procurement. The farmers expressed satisfaction over the facilities offer by the government. He directed the authorities concerned to procure wheat from small farmers on priority basis, adding that any middleman found to be blackmailing the farmers would be immediately arrested. The CM ordered immediate action against Sadiqabad Assistant Food Controller Raees Manzoor after confirming his involvement in corrupt practices in wheat procurement.