Recent floods have brought about untold misery to the farmers of Pakistan. The agriculture sector stands ruined with an estimated 8.3 million acres of crops damaged — 3.4 million acres in Sindh alone. This will have unimaginable consequences on the socio-economic fabric of the country.
The agriculture sector contributes a massive 23% to Pakistan’s GDP and employs 37% of the labour force. Not only will Pakistan suffer severe financial losses due to the damage of crops, which are estimated to be around $1.5 billion, but a significant sum of money will be required for reparations in a midst of a severe economic crunch and record-high inflation. In Sindh, just the loss from wheat, a major stable crop cultivated over 22 million acres across Pakistan, amounts to $20 million.
Moreover, experts claim that such devastation will trigger food shortages and many regions will face acute food insecurity. The situation will further force Pakistan to increase import of essential food items, taking a heavy toll on the national exchequer. Despite the fact that land and feudal lords have taken a hit, the worst impacted are small-scale farmers who rely solely on agriculture for their livelihoods and subsistence. Not only have they been stripped off of their only source of living, their communities, houses and families have been swept away by the fast-flowing water — their lives have been totally destroyed. Notwithstanding economic and statistical calculations of the losses, the induced human suffering, especially to these deprived farmers, cannot be expressed in mere words.
If officials though overcoming the immediate effects of floods have been a cumbersome ordeal, they might not be aware of the Herculean task ahead — of mitigating damage and charting out a recovery plan. The government must urge the world to send reparations in the form of food rations to affected communities in the long-run.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2022.
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