Devastation of rural economy


While news bulletins have been running stories about rainwater causing all sorts of damage in main cities, especially Karachi, nobody gave much thought to the devastation caused in rural areas and therefore to the agricultural economy. It turns out that districts like Mirpurkhas, Badin, Tharparkar, Umerkot, Talukas of Nawabshah, Tando Allahyar, Tando Mohammad Khan and Thatta in middle and lower Sindh have also been heavily battered by recent rains. And the extent of the damage is so high that a number of crops have been badly damaged. The cotton crop has been particularly badly hit since 80 percent of it has already been destroyed.
The situation requires urgent action, even reaction, on the part of the government since it is not only the crops that have been affect but farmers’ homes have also been swept away, multiplying their hardships. Now not only are they left with much less produce but a good number of them must also worry about a roof over their heads. And it’s not as if rainy days are over by any stretch of the imagination. The government knows that even worse days could lie ahead.
But it is already so far over-stretched by just trying to keep cities running that it has neither the time nor the resources to tend to the periphery.
Such negligence comes at a high cost, of course. Already the government has much to explain because it allowed the locust threat to build, despite repeated warnings from experts as well as the provinces especially Sindh, till it had actually caused widespread damage. Now it must urgently come to the aid of not just the rural economy but also the rural workforce. The crisis that the agriculture sector now faces is of monumental proportions. The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) fears that losses so far could count in excess of Rs150 billion. And a big question mark now hangs over Rabi production which is due to start in October. It seems that the entire sector is reduced to standing like a house of cards, which is very bad news since we are in the thick of the monsoon season. Sooner or later the government will have to turn its attention to all this mess. And hopefully it will understand the benefits of prevention as opposed to looking for cures when much of the damage has already been done.