Pakistan’s agriculture faces major blow due to water scarcity

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Islamabad, July 16 (IANS) Pakistan’s agriculture is facing a major blow due to an ongoing water crisis in the country.

According to the latest statistics released by the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) of Pakistan, Sindh and Punjab provinces will face 51 per cent of water shortage in the coming days as there is only 220,000 cusec acres of water available in reserves, far less than the demand, Xinhua news agency reported.

Last June, water inflows were 375,100 cusecs while this year it dropped to 112,900 cusecs.

In addition, the storage last year was 3.6 million acre feet and this year it was only 0.22 million acre feet, revealing a big gap in storage capacity and inflows.

Uzair Qamar, professor of water resource management and engineering in University of Arid Agriculture Faisalabad, told Xinhua that the snow melting process this year was slower than previous years in the country’s northern mountainous regions.

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He added that the cropping area irrigated by canal water in Punjab and Sindh province has increased over the years, but new dams were not constructed, resulting in the widening gap of supply and demand of irrigation water.

Pakistan’s top water reservoirs Tarbela Dam and Mangla Dam are already facing erosion and their water storage capacity is likely to reduce by 33 per cent by 2020.

Experts believe that in the absence of new dams, the irrigation system of the country will be badly affected.

The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources said that the country touched the water stress line in 1990 and crossed the water scarcity line in 2005, and if immediate actions were not taken, the country may run dry by 2025.

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Pakistan is an agriculture economy and about 70 per cent of its population is directly or indirectly associated with this sector.

According to an economic survey, this sector contributes 19 per cent to the GDP of the country and about 43 per cent of the country’s labour force is partially or fully associated with it.

–IANS

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