The countrywide torrential rains during last week,
after a long dry spell have proved to be both a blessing and a calamity
for the country. Unfortunately, many lives have been lost in fatal
accidents and incidence of house collapses in the rural area, the rains,
heaviest in the last decade have ended the droughts and brightened the
prospects of Rabi Crop.
Experts estimate the wheat crop will exceed the
target of 19.75 million tonnes this year despite the fact the area under
wheat cultivation this year has slightly decline. The rains have come
just at a time when the water in major reservoirs had dropped to close
to the dead level. After a few days rains, all the rivers feeding these
reservoirs has registered dramatic increase in water flows. This brought
a sense of relief to the farmers in both the rains fed and irrigated
areas. Equally pleased were the people living in the drought stricken
parts of Sindh and Balochistan.
Before these rains, it was feared that the wheat crop
will fall by about 1 million tonnes from its target of 19.75 million
tonnes. Prospects of Rabi crop have been so brightened by these timely
rains that now experts hope to have a hamper crop of 20.5 million tonnes
despite a fall in area under wheat sowing. The wheat sowing has been
completed over an area of 8.152 million hectares during current year,
which is 1.4 per cent less than the corresponding period of the last
A target of 19.75 million tonnes has been set for
wheat crop production for the year 2002-03. The wheat cultivation season
which has already started both in Barani irrigated areas has covered
over 8.080 million hectares and throughout the country to achieve the
According to Agriculture Department of Punjab wheat
has been sown over an area of 6.193 million hectares, which is 0.3 per
cent less than the corresponding period of the last year. However, the
area sown is 103.2 per cent of the target.
In Sindh wheat was sown over an area of 0.858 million
hectares, which is 2.1 per cent higher than the corresponding period of
the last year. However, the area sown in 90.0 per cent of the target.
The wheat sowing in NWFP province is 0.796 million
hectares which is 11.6 per cent less than the corresponding period of
last year. The area sown is 88.4 per cent of the target.
In Balochistan province wheat was sown over an area
of 0.305 million hectares, which is 4.7 per cent less than the
corresponding period of the last year. However, the area sown is 92.1
per cent of the target.
In Barani areas, appropriate cultivation of wheat got
underway from October 20 and in irrigated areas from November 1. Besides
fertilizer, the seed protecting medicines have also been made available
in the agricultural center, which should be mixed in seeds in prescribed
proportion before cultivation, said the sources.
According to official sources the arid zone including
Chakwal and Rawalpindi, Kohistan-97 and Kohasar are suitable varieties
while Inqlab-91 is suitable for both Barani and irrigated areas of
Although we have become self-sufficient in wheat
production thanks to some attention paid to the agriculture during the
last few years. It is however, still negligible in view of its huge
potential. However, the responsibility for poor growth rate in
agriculture sector is generally shifted to the shortage of water in the
country, which seems close to the facts to a large extent, yet it is not
the only reason for stagnant or declining growth rate in the agriculture
sector. There is something more than what it meets to the eyes. The role
of the big bugs in this sector should also be taken into account while
reviewing the performance of the agriculture sector in Pakistan.
Besides the available cultivatable lands, Pakistan
has yet to bring an area of 10.1 million acres of virgin land under
plough. However, it needs plenty of water, which is one of the major
impediments in the way of agriculture growth in Pakistan.
At present only 11 per cent of the total water
resources were being stored in Pakistan, as no new water reservoirs had
been constructed after Tarbela, while countries like China had built
6000 water reservoirs during this period. Since the per capita water
availability is continued to drop, situation calls for a national
consensus for developing small or big dams all over the country to meet
the formidable challenges of water shortage.
The agriculture was hit by acute water shortage for
the third successive year and as a result crop yield declined. The
recent rains have come to rescue, but the excessive water available now
will be wasted by falling into the sea because of shortage of store
capacity in our dams. The construction of small dams and water
reservoirs is the crying need of the time. This work should be done on
was footing both in public and private sector. This is also essential to
maintain the underground water to the minimum level necessary for the
functioning of tube wells.