Water shortage may hit sugarcane crop

Minister hopes above-average snowfall to improve canal water supply

Our Correspondent April 22, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The country is bracing for a substantial water shortage during the current Kharif sowing season, signalling production of some key crops such as sugarcane may be at risk.

"Pakistan will face water shortage during the Kharif season due to limited rainfall, which may benefit some crops including cotton, but it could negatively affect other crops like sugarcane," said Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan.

He was speaking at a press conference on Friday after presiding over a meeting of the Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA).

According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, the country will receive below-average rains in the first quarter (April to June) of the Kharif season, which may cause a further drop in air and soil moisture in major agricultural plains. However, Bosan insisted that the country had recorded 17% above-average snowfall this year and the melting of snow would help maintain canal water supply.

"Owing to increase in temperature, snow melting in northern areas will improve the river flow," he said, adding at present all provinces were getting required water supplies. About wheat production, Bosan said his ministry had not yet received final estimates, but according to surveys and field visits, Pakistan would achieve the target of 26 million tons.

Coupled with last year's leftover stock of 4.3 million tons, the total wheat supply will be about 30.3 million tons, which is well over national requirement.

He said the gram production target for 2017-18 was set at 357.7 thousand tons from an area of 935.5 thousand hectares, which reflected a decrease of 42.2%. "The main reason behind the decrease is irregular rains," he said. The committee fixed sugarcane production target for 2017-18 at 68.2 million tons from an area of 1,164.2 thousand hectares.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2017.

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