Agriculture: Planting cotton under extreme water stress – Newspaper

Pakistan begins another tough Kharif season. Sindh and Punjab debate their share in this water scarcity, especially with water scarcity at the beginning of the season, shooting more than 30% and risking rising to higher levels as the river’s flow decreases as the temperature rises. are doing it

Statistical reality presents a grim picture. Pakistan started the season with two major reservoirs depleted. Tarbella Dam and Cashma are dead, Lake Mangla is only 354,000 acres. Last year, the country kicked off the season with 1.57 million acres of water. Even taking into account an average of over a million acres over the past decade, this year started off with a third.

Last week added a shortage. Friday (April 8, 2022) At the time this line was written, Mangla Lake had fallen to 246,000 acres, with Tarbella and Chashma remaining at dead levels. This is because the daily stream flow did not improve despite the high temperatures in both dam basins. On April 1, the total flow of rivers across the country was recorded at 82,100 cusecs. On April 8, it stood at 82,700 Cusec, in contrast to 104,900 Cusec on the same day last year and 137,700 Cusec as the 10-year average. During these eight days, temperatures in the northern regions rose from 11 degrees Celsius to 22 degrees Celsius. If the water level in Lake Mangla falls below the tectonic level of the spillway (1,091 feet), runoff will further decrease to 32,000 cusec, putting additional pressure on irrigation supplies in the Punjab region.

Last year, the country kicked off the season with 1.57 million acres of water. That’s about five times more than it has to contend with this year.

The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has not yet released a final consensus deficit figure, but it was already delivering a 30pc shortage to Sindh and Punjab. Similarly, Sindh received 31,500 cusecs for an indent of 44,700 cusecs. Both absorbed exactly 29pc shortfall.

This is a water environment where Punjab plans to plant the largest and most nationally important cotton crop on 4.5m acres. Although the Federal Commission on Cotton has not yet officially designated a target for the state. Driven by better yields last year, higher rates and a return to farmers’ interest in crops, Punjab is targeting a 45% increase from 3.1 million acres last year to 4.5 million acres this year.

The performance of last year’s crop has encouraged fats to achieve even higher goals. In addition to better germination, a significant increase in plant populations (from 15,500 in 2020 to 17,800 per acre in 2021) has increased the average yield from 15.68 mounds in 2020 to 19.62 mounds in Punjab last year. It was even better in Sindh. At 30 mounds per acre, it raised the national average to 25 mounds per acre. Officially holding it in your hands only added to the economic effect of the harvest.

These factors helped put the crop back on the road of revival, and it was expected to reclaim acres lost to competing crops such as rice and sugarcane in the region. However, water turned out to be a major stumbling block during sowing. To complicate matters even more, whole crops are sown in brackish areas that are completely dependent on canal water.

Dr Saghir Ahmad, chief economist at the Multan Institute, warns: “The water problem could take up to a million bales.” The water problem was one of the many reasons for the reduction in area last year, and it was the same this year. Not only does it affect the sowing, but it continues to affect the crop throughout its entire life cycle. Seeding can be suppressed at the sowing stage. During the fruiting stage, it can cause shedding and affect yield. When a pest attack weakens a plant, the damage can be much higher than otherwise. Punjab may not reach its target area. Only time will tell how much you lose. But he certainly predicts that it will be.

“The farmer survey is showing an upward trend this year, but that increase is over 3.1 million acres last year,” asserts one USDA employee. “We are doing our best, but 4.5m acres (45pc increase) seems too much to achieve in any way given the exceptional water stress along with other reasons such as high production costs. It is hoped that rising temperatures may reduce shortages. However, even if water conditions improve in the next week or two, it may take another two weeks for the water to reach southern Punjab, narrowing the sowing window.

A farmer in central Punjab, Abad Khan, believes that the coarse-grained rice varieties in the central region (Sahiwal, Arifwala, Pakpattan or Potato Belt) that plant seedlings in March and go to fields in April require large amounts of rice. water. Similarly, the corn crop has grown 1.5 to 2 feet tall and needs to be watered twice a week in this hot weather. All of these crops are suffering right now and will inevitably suffer.

Rice from the Basmati Belt can avoid the crisis as it is transplanted into fields in July, when the monsoon begins to replenish supplies. However, all other crops are under stress, he predicts, and will continue to do so until late Kharif when the tribe drops to 6pc based on current Irsa calculations, he predicts.

Posted in Dawn, Business and Finance Weekly, April 11, 2022