Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Rising threat to Pakistan's crops from climate

Ashfak Bokhari in Dawn (Pakistan): Farmers in Sindh are suffering the worst effects of climate change on their banana, tomato, seasonal vegetable and fruit crops in the wake of an unexpected wave of extreme cold.

Growers say the cold spell has destroyed 70 per cent of banana orchards and 80 per cent of vegetable and fruit farms in six districts of the province. Banana produced here has a huge demand in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan as well as Iran and Afghanistan. Such an extreme weather was last experienced in 2005.

They accuse the agriculture extension department of lack of interest to help them save their crops sensitising them to the effects of climate change and enable them to make changes accordingly in the crop pattern. The fact remains that because of climate change, sowing and harvesting timings have changed and those who are unable to adapt themselves to the changed situation suffer the most.

The cultivation of the potato crop in Punjab was delayed by a month (from September to October) this year due to precipitation and high temperature. Still, some farmers in central Punjab expect reduction in the yield up to ten per cent. Vegetables, particularly potatoes, are more vulnerable to heat. Punjab contributes almost 90 per cent to the country’s total production of potato.

Agriculture is facing five major risks caused by climate change. These are rise in sea level, glacial retreats, floods, higher average temperature and frequency of droughts. Crop yields are expected to decrease in the years to come not only because of flooding, but also due to rise in temperatures. Some areas may even become uncultivable. Cotton was once an important crop for Faisalabad, but now it is not grown there anymore...

A camel carrying hay in Pakistan, shot by Bart de Goeij, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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