The horrendous flooding in Pakistan has not only costed many lives directly but is threatening the food security of the entire country.
According to JahanAra Watoo, vice president of Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF), some 30 million people have been affected by the flooding.
Countless numbers of farmers, many of them women, has been left both homeless and jobless, with their land and crops under water.
In common with the industry in general, the agriculture sector in Pakistan had already been severely hit by the ever rising costs of raw materials.
JahanAra said farmers traditionally trav-elled long distances to agricultural jobs but had lost those opportunities due to flooded roads.
Women in particular were more likely to be left without work as mobility for them in rural Pakistan was even more difficult.
While the human population was able to flee the rising waters, the majority of the livestock had to be left behind and is likely to have been lost, she said.
JahanAra said crops in the flood-affected regions have been destroyed, resulting in a total loss for some farmers.
“Similarly, true impact on agriculture yields will also not be known until the crops re-emerge from under the water,” she said.
The regions most affected are rice and cotton growing areas of Sindh and the south.
Mango orchards and red chilles farms of Sindh are also under water, with the loss of dates put at 85 per cent.
Sugarcane has fared better, due to it being a high water-consuming crop, with about seven per cent said to have been damaged to date.
“Rice and cotton crops are crucial for our economy,” said JahanAra.
“Rice grown in Sindh fetches over 50 per cent of foreign exchange that we earn from export of rice.
“Cotton is the mainstay of our textile sector. We were already producing less cotton than the requirement of our industry and consuming over $1.5 billion on its imports.
“Further cuts in cotton production would mean more dependence on imports at a time when we are short of foreign exchange.
“Flood damages would create a cash crunch in our rural areas. Trade and industry look forward to rural areas after better harvests to dispose of their products.
“The demand from rural regions would be subdued this year.
“If policy makers of Pakistan want to meet future challenges of climate change it will have to make adaptive measures in its agriculture.”
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