Farmers in rush to harvest before new rain spell
Met office forecast new spell from 27th
By Shafqat Munir
Farmers in the rain-fed areas of Islamabad and Rawalpindi division are in a rush to harvest Rabi wheat crop before new rain spell that is starting from 27th April. Metrological department forecast more rains next week.
“This week’s heavy rains delayed harvest and we have to wait for a few days so that standing crop of wheat dries up. Now we are harvesting it quickly before any damage might befall our crop,” said Fazal Elahi, 40, hailing from Banni Gala told INFN.
The country this year expects good wheat crop with a target of 24 million tonnes. In year 2010, due to fewer rains, the farmers in the barani (rain-fed) areas could not get good wheat yield.
Experts say though last year’s floods caused devastation, they also had a promise of good crop ahead for the farmers.
Besides the international community through Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) provided quality seeds of wheat worth US $ 54 million to the flood hit farmers in hope of a bumper crop to feed half a million poor rural population for next six months.
“Once the harvest is completed, this donation will have produced a crop worth almost $190 million in wheat flour, the main staple, at current local retail prices,” said FAO statement.
Farmers in barani areas say since they could not start timely harvest due to rains, almost all the wheat fields are now ready to be harvested as they are facing shortage of human resources to cope with this situation.
“We have hired labourers at high wages as compared to last year to help us harvest the crop quickly so that we can thresh it out well before new rain spell. Moreover we bought fertilizers at high costs and hence this year, cost of production is too high,” said Noor Azam, 45, a farmer from Fateh Jang Road.
Talking about the forthcoming problems faced by the wheat farmers in barani areas, Nasir Aziz, Actionaid’s programme officer on food and agriculture said it is crucial time for the farmers to harvest before any damage is caused.
“They will have to face another problem as for threshing their crop, they need to hire threshers which may cost them double the last year cost due to fuel price hike. Last year, threshers were available for Rs 850 per hour and now it may range between Rs 1400-Rs 1600,” said Mr Nasir