Monday May 27, 2024

Water shortage poses economic threat to Pakistan: agriculturalist

By Bureau report
April 19, 2024
People collect water in containers. — AFP/File
People collect water in containers. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: An agricultural expert and former secretary of the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB), Khan Faraz, said on Thursday that water shortages in an agrarian country like Pakistan poses a threat to economic stability.

“The implications of any decline in agricultural output could be severe for the national economy,” he told reporters.He highlighted the current economic challenges facing Pakistan, particularly the looming water scarcity of up to 30 percent during the kharif season, as reported by the Indus River System Authority (IRSA).

Faraz attributed this predicament to operational limitations at the Tarbela and Mangla dams, the country’s primary water reservoirs, which are not yet available for water discharges.Furthermore, Faraz cited information from the Sindh irrigation department, indicating that from April 1 to June 10, there will be no water available for below Kotri water releases. These releases are crucial for preventing sea intrusion into Sindh’s agricultural land, which has already lost 3.5 million acres since 1956 due to such intrusion.

“It merits a mention that this year, particularly, the lack of snow in parts that used to receive record-breaking snowfall has resulted in a dip in water storage. If important kharif crops - both food and cash crops - drop in production, Pakistan can face huge challenges. Crops like cotton are vital for the country’s gigantic textile sector,” he added.

He said the country must realise that it has to look for home-grown solutions to these problems and that it cannot expect any developed nations to extend financial aid.“And in a world of technological advancements, Pakistan can act independently. Agritech can help Pakistan deal with external pressures on its natural resources, like water, to avoid any losses in agricultural output,” he said.