Floods: A menace to Pakistan Agriculture


Indus River and its tributaries providing required amount of irrigation water for crops therefore, Pakistan’s Agriculture is mainly dependent upon this river system. 103.5 MAF water is delivering at canal heads by designing this system but to fulfill the domestic as well as irrigation requirements that amount of water is very short. The irrigation system has been constructed to defeat the water supply deficit in the country and also build new reservoir capacity of 18 MAF but flow of several sediments along with river water these reservoirs are slowly being choked.

In Pakistan, during the summer season of 2010 and 2014, severe damage occurred due to floods and rains in the areas of Indus river as well as its tributaries. In July 2010, Swat valley was severely damaged because initial outburst of river started from that area. Meanwhile, high severe devastation to urban areas as well as agricultural property in Charsada and Nowshera was also occurred due to high speed outbreaks of Kabul river. Severe damage was occurred due to overflow of rivers and high intensity of rainfall in Gilgit Baltistan, AJK and Baluchistan also. The banks of that river became uncontrollable especially at Dibwala and Mullanwala sites upstream the Taunsa Barrage. During 2010, Kot Addu, Mehmood Kot, Basira, adjacent areas of Muzaffargarh, D.G. Khan, Daira Din Panah, Rajanpur, Rangpur, were hit badly by about 3 to 5 meter height water wave. Sadiq Abad, Rahim Yar Khan, Kot Sabzal and some adjacent areas were also subjected to flooding during 2010 and 2014. Due to flood, severe damage to cotton crop occurred along river Indus include Khanewal, Multan, T.T.Singh and Jhang in Punjab and Ghotki, Katcho areas, Sukkur, Naushero Feroze Khairpur, and Shaeed Benazir Abad in Sindh province. Severe damage to cotton crop was occurred in the areas of Muzaffargarh about 124 thousand ha, in Rahim Yar Khan 23 thousand ha, in Rajanpur 107 thousand ha and in D.G. Khan 29 thousand ha due to floods in 2010 and 2014.

Sugarcane is hydrophilic plant but it also requires porous and well drained soil having judicious infiltration rate. The crop growth reduced drastically if it is subjected to a long flooding. Rice crop was also damaged in flood affected areas of Rajanpur, Jhang, D.G. khan, and Muzaffargarh in Punjab province due to prolonged standing of water. Some areas of Punjab province were also damaged by rains during flood season in 2014. In case of rice, plant has a system to survive under flooded conditions and perform better than other crops because oxygen supply mechanism to roots through leaves is developed in rice crop. In Sindh, rice crop was damaged badly in most of the right bank districts of province. Dadu district in Sindh was affected severely as water receding from the upper districts. Similarly, on the left bank of river, only rice growing district in Sindh, Thatta was badly affected by floods. On an account, rice production loss was over two million tons due to flood hazard because rice plantation in Sindh continued up to September and this short period rice crop may not full-grown for grain harvest.  Millet was mainly affected by flood in Punjab province. The major millet growing areas are Jhelum, Jhang, and Mianwali in Punjab. Sorghum is a special crop of barani areas and in 2014, 72 thousand ha area was badly damaged by rains and flood. That crop was also affected by flood in some districts of Sindh. In Punjab sorghum was destroyed in Jhelum, Jhang, and Mianwali. Farmers faced severe problem due to destruction of fodders during flood, as supply of fodder for livestock was restricted during those days. In Pakistan, Area of 0.4 million ha, under fodder was affected and about 4 million tons was production loss. Wheat, the most important crop of Pakistan had been severely damaged due to floods during 2010 and 2014. Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock shows that 80,823 tonnes of wheat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 44,896 tonnes of wheat in Punjab had been totally spoilt during 2014. About 5,41,696 tonnes of wheat were estimated to damaged in Sindh, while, total destruction of all crops had occurred over an area of 321,651 acres in Balochistan due to flood hazard.

In short, “Floods erode away the rich layers of soil and if water stands for long time period over land, then in next season’s crop may not be grown”. Numbers of acre of agricultural fertile lands have been destroyed after flood and have damaged rice, sugarcane and maize crops completely. That soil erosion problem is mainly seen in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province till now. The problems of both salinity and water logging get severe due to flood hazard in Sindh affecting crop yield badly.


written by .

Shakeel Ahmad Anjum, Sadaf Zahra, Dr. Nadeem Akbar, Iftikhar Ali, Abdul Shakoor

Agro-biology Laboratory, Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad 38040, Pakistan    


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