Recent spell of rains: a blessing for rice farmers

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VIASalman Siddiqui
SOURCEThe Express Tribune
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KARACHI: The recent monsoon rains have helped overcome the water shortfall for summer crops, aiding farmers in ensuring a good rice yield and preparing land for potato, gram and canola in Pakistan.

“The raining has proved to be a blessing upon us (farmers),” Sindh Abadgar Board President Abdul Majeed Nizamani said while talking to The Express Tribune.

“We could not sow the crop,” he said.

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“Had it not rained for 15-20 days in the recent past, farmers would have missed the season to sow rice in over 30-35% targeted land in Sindh,” he said.

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The farmers required full supply of water in April-May for the rice crop. However, the acute water shortfall had not allowed a large number of farmers to sow the crop on time. “The 15-20 days raining has overcome the shortfall for the crop,” he said.

Farmers sow rice on over 1.8-2.2 million acre land in the province. The average production stands at 40-46 maund (37.32 kilogram) per acre, he added

Rice is produced in both upper and lower Sindh. The land around the Kotri barrage remains rich for rice crop.

Farmers are still sowing rice in some of the areas in the province. It is a heavy water-consuming crop and takes around 90 days to be harvested from the time of sowing, he said.

Pakistan Agri Forum Chairman Ibrahim Mughal said the timing of the rain proved to be perfect. “Rains saved farmers Rs4-5 billion,” he estimated.

Had it not rained farmers would have to spend the amount on fuels to water the standing summer crops (cotton, pulses, rice, sugarcane and maize) through tube wells, he said.

The heavy monsoon spells also helped prepare the land and sowing oilseeds rape, mustard and canola on time in September throughout Pakistan.

Besides, it also allowed farmers to sow potato and gram on time in September in the Punjab province. “The gram is sown especially in four districts of the province, including Layyah, Bhakkar, Mianwali and Khushab,” he said.

It slightly causes a delay in picking cotton crop, but helped taking phutti (cotton-flower) price up to Rs4,100 per maund from Rs3,700 before the rain.

The country is estimated to produce 10.5 million bales of 170 kilogram each this year against the set target of 11 million bales.

He said the PTI government has allocated Rs30 billion to introduce technology-driven solutions in agriculture sector and help farmers in taking high production of crops including sugarcane, sunflower, rice and wheat.

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“However, it did not allocate a single penny for cotton, which remains the bread and butter for a large number of farmers nationwide,” he said.

Agriculture remains one of the strong pillars of the domestic economy, as its share stands around one-fifth of gross domestic product (GDP).

(This news/article originally appeared in The Express Tribune on September 10th, 2019)

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