Downpours continue: Winter rains revive farmers’ fortunes for now

Met office predicts light to moderate rain with snowfall over hilly areas over the next 48 hours

Hidayat Khan January 05, 2017
Snow covers a road in the Alpuri after the first snowfall of the season. PHOTO: INP

PESHAWAR: A late spell of winter rain continued to drench northern parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday, reviving farmers’ hopes of planting Rabi crops after a prolonged dry spell severely curtailed the sowing of Kharif crops.

Though the season for sowing wheat may be over, farmers still welcomed the downpour coming as it did after a month-long dry spell.

Farmers in the arid southern districts of the province, where growers are fully dependent on rain for irrigation, will not be able to sow wheat.

According to Met Office projections, light to moderate rainfall is expected in the province and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) over the next 48 hours.

“With the potato crop under severe stress and wheat already sowed, the current spell of rain will have a positive impact,” said Atlas Khan, a farmer.

Farmers in general feared the spectre of heavy losses and crop failures because of depletion of underground water.

“The current spell of rain will have some positive impact on the province’s agriculture,” says Khan “Farmers always need rainfall for growing crops even in areas irrigated by canals, as they never get sufficient irrigation water according to their needs.”

People in the province’s urban areas also heaved a sigh of relief after rain broke the prolonged dry spell, which allowed various diseases to spread.

Pakistan Metrological Department predicted light to moderate rain with snowfall over hilly areas in upper parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa such as Malakand, Hazara, Peshawar and Mardan divisions and Fata during the next two days.

Foggy conditions are also likely to continue over the country’s plains.

Over the past 24 hours, the highest rainfall, 42 milimetres, was recorded in Dir district followed by Saidu Sharif 38mm, Malam Jabba 36mm, Kalam 31mm, Chitral 18.8mm, Balakot 12.2mm, Parachinar 11mm, Drosh 10.8mm, Cherat 4mm, Kohat 3mm and Peshawar 1.4mm. Heavy snowfall, recorded at Malam Jabba, Kalam, Dir, Shangla and Chitral, is expected to continue over the next few days.

Shangla’s residents were overcome with joy over the first snowfall. But their happiness was short-lived because power breakdowns soon followed.

Deputy Commissioner Abdul Kabir Khan imposed Section 144 and ordered all motorists to drive with chains on their vehicles’ tyres to avoid hazards on slippery roads.

Shangla received as much as two feet of snow, disrupting the flow of traffic.

In Chitral, the road connecting the district with Peshawar was closed for traffic after heavy snowfall hit the area. All vehicles on their way to Peshawar were stopped at Mirkhani checkpost while those en route to Chitral were stopped at Lower Dir because of road closure.

Local residents urged  the government to open the much-awaited Lowari tunnel for traffic at least after heavy snowfall forced the closure of Lowari Top.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2017.



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