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Call for reservoirs to store rainwater

Monsoon always have a great impact on local agriculture as good rains always increase production of both major and minor crops of Pakistan, which boosts the agriculture sector growth.

There is a need to establish water reservoirs to store this precious natural resource while promotion of rainwater harvesting technique is also a need of hour for Pakistani agriculture.

These views were expressed in the Jang Economic Session on ‘Monsoon-Impact on Agriculture and Economy’, here on Thursday. Participants in the moot included Meteorologist Riaz Khan, Monitoring Chief PMIU Irrigation and Power Department Punjab Habibullah Bodla, President Basmati Growers Association (BGA) Hamid Malhi, Director Farmer Associates of Pakistan (FAP) Rabia Sultan and Chairman AgriForum Pakistan Ibrahim Mughal. The moot was hosted by Sikindar Hameed Lodhi and Intikhab Tariq.

Riaz Khan said that water was the lifeline for agriculture and Pakistani agriculture mainly depended upon rainwater. He said winter rains and snowfall in northern areas irrigated Rabi crop. He said historically 70 mm rain on average had been recorded in winters, which filled 80 per cent of Mangla Dam. He said low and medium flood was very important for river channels as well as for improving ground water table while high floods created troubles due to non availability of water reservoirs infrastructure.

Habibullah Bodla said rainwater was very useful for agriculture sector but its benefits were never exploited properly. He said in 2010, Pakistan wasted 1.2 million acre feet rainwater in flood while China save similar quantity out of its 2.1 million acre feet rainwater by storing in dams. He said it has never been thought to utilize the abundant monsoon rainwater by constructing dams. He said that this year so far good rainfall was recorded in rice, cotton and other crops growing zones. He criticized that due to poor forecast system rainwater was also wasted in Pakistan.

Hamid Malhi said that Pakistan has the best canal system of the world but due to wrong policies huge quantity of water was wasted every year into sea. He said there was no shortage of water for Kharif crop while in Rabi it would not be available. He said so far over one MAF water has been wasted in sea this season while last year 50 MAF had been wasted. He said technically this year is a wet year and timely rain has a good impact on all major crops especially rice. He said rainwater has no substitute in the world as it contained minerals and nitrogen.

Rabia Sultan said rain was a blessing of Allah but due to mismanagement and poor policies it has been converted to a problem. She said recent rains impacted positively the rice and sugarcane crops while shortage of urea has also been compensated for. She said that rainwater was also crucial for orchards. Ibrahim Mughal said the cost of one million acre feet water was $1 billion. He said Pakistan was lucky to have rainfall and received 80 to 920 days rainfall in a year. However, it was far behind in using rainwater harvesting technique to exploit this potential. He said the government was not fulfilling its responsibilities by not constructing dams. He said groundwater level was depleting in Pakistan and rainwater played a vital role in replenishing it.

He said Lahore was spread over 4 lakh acres and two feet rainfall in the City was equal to Mangla Dam reservoir’ capacity. But, this water was being wasted in River Ravi and mixed with sewerage. He said cotton was cultivated at 8.7 million acres which needed 26 inch water per acre, rice on 6 million acres needed 48 inches water per acre, sugarcane on 2.3 million acres needed 64 inches water per acre and maize on 1 million acre needed 30 inches water per acre.