KARACHI: Torrential rains and ensuing floods in Pakistani’s Sindh province have damaged around 60 percent of cotton crop and caused more than Rs15 billion in financial losses to growers, with vast farmlands still flooded, officials and growers said this week.
The Sindh government has declared 20 districts of the province ‘calamity hit’ and ordered a survey to assess losses, including in the lower part of the Sindh where floods have caused huge damages to farmlands and destroyed cotton, chili, onion, and rice plantations.
“The losses of cotton are 60 percent which will compel the country to import Rs 200 billion worth of cotton, chili crops is over 90 percent damaged, onion 80 percent, and rice around 30 percent,” Nawab Zubair Talpur, president of the Sindh Growers Alliance, told Arab News. “The more painful situation for farmers is that the water is still standing in the farmlands of Badin, Thatha, Sanghar etc.,” he said, referring to different areas of Sindh.
#LISTEN: President of the Sindh Growers Alliance explains the depth of damage caused by torrential #rains and #floods to crops in #Sindh and its impact on farmers and livestock || #Pakistan #Monsoon
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Sanghar is one of the largest cotton producing districts of Sindh province where rain water has inundated vast farmlands and ruined cotton crops.
“Cotton was planted on 72,000 acres of which more than 80 percent has been damaged due to rainwater in Sanghar and Umerkot districts,” Hussain Bukhsh, deputy director at the Sindh Agriculture Department, told Arab News via phone from Umerkot.
Stakeholders estimate the rains have damaged around one million bales of cotton in lower Sindh.
In Pakistan, cotton is the lifeline of the textile industry.
“Estimated damages both in quantity and quality would be more than Rs15 billion at current price,” Naseem Usman Osawala, a senior cotton broker and analyst, told Arab News. “This year textile mills would be required to import cotton worth around $1.5 billion to meet the demand.”
Ginners say water has also damaged the quality of the cotton which would ultimately reduce prices and demand.
“Residual quantity of cotton will be of low quality because after contacting water its color has changed to yellow from white, which if dyed gives any third color that is why its price will be low,” Mian Javaid Sohail, chairman of the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association, told Arab News.
Pakistan’s cotton production is already declining with 2020-21 production forecasted at 6.3 million (480 pound) bales, down 100,000 bales from the revised 2019-20 estimate and 21 percent less than last year’s annual projection of eight million bales, according to the Foreign Agriculture Service of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The livelihoods of around 1.5 million farmers are directly associated with cotton harvesting in Pakistan.
Shan Ali Khan Junejo, a cotton grower, said prevailing conditions had forced people to camp on the roads as their homes and lands were flooded.
“The floods are likely to trigger unemployment and discontent among the farmworkers,” he said.
Junejo, whose family’s 1000 acres of cotton crop are completely damaged, said he is worried that the lives and livelihoods of more than 5,000 peasants of the area were at stake.
“Three or four feet of water is still standing on our lands and we are worried about the next wheat crop,” Junejo said.
Chili and onion crops have also been ruined.
“Chilis were planted on 28,000 acres in Umerkot and adjoining areas, of which more than 95 percent has been damaged, while onion planted on 5,500 acres, tomato on 2,600 acres and other vegetables, have been completely wiped out,” Bukhsh said.
Farmers say if the government takes immediate action to drain water from their lands they might still be able to cultivate again.
“Our area is the main chili growing center in Sindh where more than 85 percent chili is produced but rains have played havoc,” said chilli grower Khalid Iqbal, who lost 450 acres of crop in Sanghar. “Crop damages would increase prices of chili in the country.”
Rice growers said the crop had suffered losses of up to 30 percent in Sindh.
“In lower Sindh the damages are up to 30 percent,” Imran Ali Bozdar, deputy secretary at the Sindh Abadgar Board, said.
However, some exporters pointed to a silver lining: rice was cultivated on a larger area this year and so greater production might compensate for the losses.
“The damages would be offset by the bumper crop and there would be no shortage,” Abdul Rahim Jano, former chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan said. “Our teams are touring the affected area to ascertain the exact damages”.
But damages to onion crops would likely create demand-supply imbalances, stakeholders say.
“Last year farmers fetched a good price for onion,” said Waheed Ahmed, the patron-in-chief of the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association. “This year they have cultivated in a larger area.”