Record heat wave and drought in Pakistan threaten crops and olive growing
Pakistan is in the midst of a prolonged heat wave, which has caused severe water shortages, affecting people’s health and agricultural production.
Water shortages affect all types of agricultural producers. According to Manzoor Wassan, agriculture secretary of the Sindh region, they affect olive groves, cereals, mangoes, peppers, palm groves and sugar cane.
There is a serious shortage of drinking water in the province and problems in the irrigation canals. The economy will face more difficulties if the situation is not resolved.
Along with the pernicious effects of the drought, farmers are also trying to recover from massive flooding caused by melting glaciers in the mountainous north of the country due to extreme heat.
Sindh is a region in southern Pakistan that is home to several of the country’s olive growing development projects. Most of these projects focus on high and very high density irrigated groves.
See also:Pakistan’s olive growers seek government help to expand production
The record-breaking heat wave that hit the country sent temperatures soaring to 45°C in April and March.
Rising temperatures, in turn, have caused increased demand for electricity to power fans and air conditioners, while worsening the water crisis.
Jacobabad, a city in Sindh, experienced its hottest April in 122 years, with temperatures reaching 49C.
According to the United Nations Information Service, the Pakistani Meteorological Department warns that the unusual heat levels would accelerate the melting of snow and ice in the mountainous regions of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkwa, possibly triggering flooding of glacial lakes or flash floods in vulnerable areas.
Wassan warned that water is disappearing from canals used in Sindh for irrigation. The share of water available for agriculture has now fallen by 47% and is getting worse day by day.
An even more urgent alarm came from Sindh Information Secretary Sharjeel Memon, who called on the federal government to act quickly.
“There is a serious shortage of drinking water in the province and problems in the irrigation canals,” he said. “The economy will face more difficulties if the situation is not resolved.
According to local officials, the Indus River reservoirs of Guddu, Sukkur and Kotri have seen their levels drop significantly and are now between 40 and 51 percent of the normal level.
The Indus River is the most relevant source for the country’s water supply infrastructure.
Recently published research by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics has confirmed that the causes of water scarcity in the country are linked to rapid population growth combined with the increasing effects of climate change, which exacerbate floods and droughts.
According to the study, water scarcity is also due to poor water management in the agricultural sector, old or inefficient infrastructure and widespread water pollution problems.
United Nations data from 2021 cited by the research shows that only 36% of the population has access to safe drinking water.
The data also shows that the country’s irrigation system enjoys an efficiency rate of less than 39%. Of the 143 billion cubic meters available at the head of the canal, only 55 billion arrive in the fields.
This figure is emblematic of the challenges that regional and federal governments must face to support the country’s agricultural production.
While olive growing in Sindh has just started to develop, olive growing has been at the heart of many development projects in other parts of Pakistan in recent years.
As part of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project, Pakistan is cultivating thousands of olive trees and soon aims to reach four million hectares of olive-growing area.
In Sindh, the first olive grove was recently announced, with several development projects being considered. International role models, including Italy, are among the biggest backers and investors in Pakistan’s nascent olive sector.
The International Olive Council (IOC) and Pakistani government officials recently announced that the country is joining the council as 19and member.
The announcement came following the continued development of olive infrastructure in the country, including nurseries, laboratories and mills. One of the incentives for joining the IOC is the potential for enhanced international cooperation, which has supported the country’s olive initiatives.
“Pakistan feels the need to connect with the council as it develops its olive sector and its internal consumption of olive oil increases,” said IOC Executive Director Abdellatif Ghedira recently. Olive Oil Times.