Oct 3 - 9, 20

Heavy torrential rains in the lower Sindh has damaged around 0.5 million tons of standing paddy crop having export value of about $235 million. This has not only caused losses to the farmers but also deprived the exporters two months advantage of early arrival of crop over other rice producing countries.

Forward selling in rice trade chain, starting from growers, millers and exporters, would also cause heavy losses and many foreign contracts would be cancelled.

A spokesperson of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) told PAGE since paddy in lower Sindh is normally harvested in September, it gives edge to Pakistani exporters over other countries exporters.

However, damage caused by persistent and heavy rains has hit around 0.5 million tons or 20 to 25 per cent of total paddy of an average of 2.4 millions tons annually harvested in the province. The five districts of the Sindh province, including Badin, Sanghar, Tando Mohammad Khan, Hyderabad, and Mirpurkhas, which are the most-affected, on an average produce around 0.8 million tons Irri-6 per annum.

Heavy downpour in these districts has inundated paddy and cotton fields causing heavy damage to the standing crops. It may be noted that around 0.3 million tons Irri-6 could be harvested in these districts. Upper five districts, including Larkana, Kambat (Shahdad Kot), Shikarpur, Jacocabad and Khandh Kot Kashmor are expected to produce around 1.8 million tons. However, the crop arrival will be not before end of October.

According to him, though paddy in upper districts, which produce around 75 per cent of the Irri-6, are fully safe but the advantage of early arrival of crop given by lower districts to export trade has been eroded by the damage caused by heavy rains.

Next paddy crop is due late in October and during two months gap Pakistani exporters would have no Irri-6 to export and they would suffer heavy losses because they would not be able to honor commitments made in the world market.

Sources claimed that rains have affected paddy over 0.5 million acres in lower districts while the remaining area of 1.25 million acres in upper districts is safe and would enable the country earn substantial foreign exchange.

Last year, the country earned little over $2 billion in foreign exchange. The average price of Irri-6 in the world market is around $470 per ton.

As per estimates, almost half the rice crop of the province has been damaged, while as farmers usually use rainwater for re-sowing of rice in Sindh, the damages may go beyond 50 per cent.

Farmers' representatives said that damages to cotton, paddy, sugarcane, and vegetables are enormous.

Initially the rains spelt disaster over lower Sindh's Tando Allahyar, Tando Mohammad Khan, Sanghar, Umerkot, Mirpurkhas, Thatta and Badin districts. Later the districts of Khairpur, Benazirabad and rice-growing districts of Jacobabad, Qambar-Shahdadkot, Larkana and Ghotki also faced a terrible situation. Nearly 23 per cent of paddy, 21 per cent of sugarcane crop and 90 per cent of chilly-growing areas have been damaged.

Rice growers anticipate 20 per cent damage to paddy crop from the rains. Due to late sowing, the crop grew nine to 10 inches which has now submerged in water after the rains. Transplanted rice saplings are submerged and anti-pest spray has become ineffective, threatening more damages.

Besides, lower Sindh areas of Umerkot, Digri, Tando Jam Mohammad, Kunri, Naukot, Samaro and Khipro, famous for fine quality chilly, have been damaged enormously. The crop on around 80,000-90,000 acres has suffered 80 per cent losses as per estimate of Mian Saleem, president Red Chilly Growers Association. "Only 15-20 per cent of the crop is safe in Kunri where the land is uneven or it is grown on elevated ground."

According to sources, exports of non-Basmati rice are expected to be affected. As the province produces non-Basmati rice, the export of the same product is likely to be affected during the financial year 2011-12. The growers of rice and cotton should be compensated against the losses suffered with immediate arrangement of surveys and estimates of the damages.

It may be recalled that the exports of rice during July and August 2011 increased nine per cent as compared to the corresponding months of last year.

The figure of rice export data in July 2011 was 107,288 M/T worth $93 million. During July-August 2010,532,539 M/T of rice valuing $290,991,835 were exported to various destination of the world, whereas during the last two months around 485,025 M/T of rice worth $319576,784 was exported.

Though the export volume of rice reduced, the revenue earned from rice exports increased nine per cent. Central Vice President of the Sindh Abadgar Board, Gada Hussain Mahisar, said that initial surveys showed that heavy rains coupled with faulty 'sim nullahs' have caused widespread damages in Sindh.

The downpour, he added, had also damaged 25 per cent of crops in the rice belt of Larkana, Qambar-Shahdadkot, Kashmore, Jacboabad and Shikarpur districts.

He said un-reigned saline drains had devastated paddy crops which, according to him, could spread over 500,000 acres of land in the rice belt. For the last three years, the concerned departments had left the saline drain to silt up while funds meant for its cleansing were either misused or siphoned off, he added.

In lower Sindh, paddy crop damages were assessed at 50 per cent where saline drains also played havoc with cotton, onion, chilly and vegetables crops massively. He said under the prevailing conditions and wet weather, paddy crop was prone to stem borer, hopper, and mille bug attack.