Deltaic growers in trouble due to persistent water shortage

KARACHI: Small growers of tail end areas of Thatta district have announced to assemble at the coastal village Thare Wari near Kharo Chhan on July 5, 2014 to discuss the water shortage, which have perished all the seasonal crops like banana, paan, vegetables and paddy standing on hundreds of acres of land.

This was decided at a meeting held at Baghan town, the last land route of the country, which attracted a large number of growers to share their problems and design effective future plan of action.

Growers complained that they are facing acute water shortage, because of stoppage canal water by certain landlords, depriving the tail-enders of their share.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) spokesman said they were mobilizing area growers to save their agriculture crops, the main traditional source of income of the communities.

Gulab Shah, also a small grower from Keti Bunder and PFF local leader said farmers had lost their standing crops because of persistent shortage of water in canals. He predicted that the farmers might not be able to cultivate their lands if the situation continued.

He said they have communicated the irrigation department officials, local legislators and the provincial authorities to look in to their problems, but all went in vain as nobody bothers to pay heed towards their grievances.

He said the meeting decided to motivate other farmers of Keti Bunder and Kharo Chhan to launch effective campaign to save their traditional agriculture through sensitization of the government authorities.

He said they usually used to get water through River Indus and tributaries to cultivate their lands. But after a few years they are unable to receive a single drop through K B Feeder, which feeds the Keenjhar Lake and other agriculture areas, including those in Keti Bunder.

He said the farmers want to shift their hands to the crops, which sustain on the less consumption of water, but they yet to initiate their minds. They cultivate banana, paddy, variety of vegetables and paan. Now not only the crops, human population and their livestock are also facing trouble due to water shortage in the entire areas. Farmers cannot afford to keep animals, which need potable water there.

Kharo Chhan and Keti Bunder are known traditionally the prosperous port towns long ago. The area elders still share their prosperity and happy days they had experienced when there was more water, fertile lands, crop productions, fish and livestock. But after changes took place due to weather pattern change, the people are facing hardships, sometimes even they do not have two meals a day for their children.

PFF Chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah said the sea erosion had already engulfed a large number of once flourishing villages near Keti Bunder and Kharo Chhan and the area had experienced widely migration. The reason was persistent water shortage and sea erosion.

These areas used to supply vegetables, fruits, paan and dairy products to Karachi and other urban centers. But now even the farmer families themselves are facing trouble of food availability for their own consumption.

He said the international water treaties suggest water as human right to all the people. The government of Pakistan should take the cry of these tail end deltaic people in to consideration and resolve the issue to avoid disaster of food shortage there, because these people depend on fishing, farming and animal rearing and facing the problem.

Thare Wari village, a next meeting place, itself has a historic links to Kharo Chhan and area people have more stories to share with green belt of the Indus Delta. A large number of farmers are expected to attend the meeting to design future strategy to save their crops.

The growers possess smaller pieces of family lands containing 10—100 acres each. They are unable to cultivate their pieces of lands due to the problem.

Paan is said to be the major cash crop in the area, because many growers invest huge amount to produce this eatable item, which needs proper temperature and survive in the coastal areas. The recent variations have hit hard these investors, who want to save their crops.

The farmers said it might cause food insecurity in the wide area, which is already experiencing ups and downs in the sea.

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