Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Floods cause Rs 244.6bn loss to agri sector: MinFA

* Small farmers suffer loss of Rs 98bn, while some face total annihilation of their crops
ISLAMABAD: The devastating floods across the country have caused damage worth Rs 244.6 billion to the agriculture sector with maximum losses suffered by the small farmers of around Rs 98 billion, while some facing total annihilation of their crops.

This was revealed in the initial estimate prepared by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MinFA) on Monday in coordination with the provincial governments and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) government. However, the estimate prepared by the MinFA has also said that the agriculture loss could be higher in Southern Punjab and some parts of Sindh as clear pictures from many areas have yet not been received. The ministry has said that maximum damage by the floods has been made to the minor crops of Kharif season, which includes jawar, maize, moong and mash pulses and some citrus fruit varieties. “The most upsetting thing is that the minor crops are mainly cultivated by small farmers and in areas where growers have small land holdings,” said a senior official of the MinFA. “This loss is the most serious setback for the farming community because most of the small farmers have lost considerable number of livestock too as they had limited facility for their animals.” Among the major cash crops the ministry’s report highlighted that the largest loss of Rs 71.4 billion has been faced by the cotton crop.

Cotton was sown over 3.1 hectares in the current Kharif season out of which the floods have destroyed crops at 0.51 million hectares, as a result the production is expected to decline by almost 15 percent to 11.7 million bales as against the targeted cotton production of 14 million bales in 2010.

The Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal has said that Pakistan will face serious cotton shortage in coming days as more than 15 percent of the crop has already been hit by the floods.

“Two million bales have been destroyed in the floods in Punjab alone and we have yet to receive the complete details,” the minister added. The cotton crop has been seriously damaged in Bakkhar, Layyah and Mianwali districts apart from many other areas in southern districts of Punjab, while the left bank of River Indus in Sindh is the cotton belt and the cotton crops have suffered in Sukkur, Khairpur, Ghotki, Naushero Feroze and Benazirabad districts. The paddy crops in the country have faced a loss of Rs 56.3 billion and the worst hit areas are right bank districts of Sindh.

The countrywide paddy production is expected to decline by around 27 percent to 4.35 million tonnes as against the original estimated production of 5.95 million tonnes. Among the major crops, sugarcane farmers have suffered a loss of Rs 19.3 billion and its production is expected to decline to 47.23 million tonnes as against the estimated production of 54.83 million tonnes.

Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) Chairman Iskander khan said that the initial reports suggest that the sugar cane crops in Charsadda, DI Khan and some parts of Southern Punjab have suffered damages. He said that 4 million tonnes of sugar production was expected in the coming season but now 3.8 million tonnes is likely to be obtained. The MinFA has estimated that the other serious issue faced by the country in the near future would be shortage of vegetables.[DailyTimes]

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