FAISALABAD: Heavy rains throughout April in Punjab have prevented farmers from harvesting wheat and have damaged the standing crop in some parts, sparking fears of heavy losses.
If the crop, which is ready for harvest, is not picked from the fields by next week, its quality will be affected and per-acre yield may also drop, say agricultural experts.
“If bad weather persists for another week, the quality of grain will suffer badly, leading to a price fall,” said Yasir Mahmood, an agricultural expert while talking to The Express Tribune.
“Wheat harvesting, which usually starts in early April, is almost at a standstill due to rains and strong winds, causing heavy losses to the farmers,” said Khalid Ali, a farmer.
Farmers voiced fears that the rains followed by strong winds could uproot the crop and damage the yield. Wheat with high moisture could not be stored and millers would also not buy it for grinding, they said.
“The private sector could be persuaded to purchase this low-quality wheat, which may not fetch the support price of Rs1,050 per 40 kilogramme,” Ali said.
How to protect the crop
In an attempt to save the commodity from the
rains, the Punjab Agricultural Department has asked
farmers to use plastic
sheets to cover the harvested crop.
“The department is running a campaign, advising farmers that bundles of harvested wheat should be small in size, which can be covered and moved easily from one place to another,” said Hameed Ahmad, District Officer of the Punjab Agricultural Department.
He said the farmers were getting weather updates from radio and television, adding they should not start harvesting in cloudy weather. “Farmers have been advised to suspend harvesting by the time weather gets better,” said Ahmad.
He cautioned the farmers to take care of broken grain at the time of threshing as insects would mostly attack such grain.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2012.