The farmers and growers of Badin district associated with Save Badin Action Committee terming the decision of the Sindh government to impose the ban on rice cultivation in various districts of the province, as a cruel joke with farming community, and have announced to offer stiff resistance against any move to stop them from cultivating the chief crop of Kharif season.
Mir Noor Ahmed Talpur, Azizullah Dero, Syed Khuda Dino Shah, Ameer Azad Panhwar, Naserullah Jarwar, Abdul Ghafoor Chandio and other leaders of the action committee talking to the media persons on Tuesday said that it was totally insane and cruel decision to ban rice cultivation in districts like Badin, Sujawal and Thatta. ” Such decisions to impose the ban on cultivation of the only chief crop of the Kharif season, is nothing but tantamount to breaking the bone of the farmers” they added and asked the chief minister, cabinet members and the lawmakers from lower parts of Sindh to come up with a clear stance on such moves.
Showing their resentment and anger over the decision, the leaders maintained that districts of lower Sindh had always been facing the nagging irrigation water crises during the kharif season and banning rice cultivation would further aggravate the economical conditions of the farmers and growers. ” Banning the rice crop cultivation will not only create dangerous food insecurity not only in the whole province but will also in the country since the coastal belt has also been one of the biggest rice producing zones of Pakistan.
They said the decision would ensure that the farmers who had stopped growing sugar cane due to unending exploitation by mills and were fast switching to other crops were forced to grow cane and feed it to mills of the very influential political figures at prohibitively low prices.They said that the land in the ban-affected areas was saline and fit for growing only paddy crop.
The ban on cultivation of paddy had been rejected by all stakeholders because it would ultimately destroy Sindh’s economy. They said the ban on cultivation of paddy in Badin, Sujawal and Thatta districts was incomprehensible because these areas received water for only six months. The leaders said that they were already busy in sensitizing the small farmers and requesting them participate in their protest movement likely to be launched by them from next week against the irrigation crisis and against the proposed ban on the rice cultivation in Badin and other districts.
The Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah during a meeting a few days back imposed the ban on the cultivation of rice crop on the left bank of the Indus River to check waterlogging and salinity in various districts of the province. He took the decision a few weeks back in Karachi during a joint meeting of ministers of agriculture and irrigation, officers concerned and divisional commissioners at CM House here on Monday and said that paddy was a semi-aquatic (high-delta) crop that required plenty of water. “It requires 16.50mm water per day and a total of 2,500-3,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of rice,” he said. Hence, he said, heavy and clay soils that could hold water for a long time were suitable for paddy cultivation. Other crops could not survive in the surrounding paddy fields because of destruction of their roots due to presence of more than required water.Besides, he said, water standing in farmland continuously for long periods of time had caused waterlogging.
“Stagnant water affects capillary tubes of soil and increases capillary movement of water up to far-flung areas,” he said. Minister for Irrigation Sohail Anwar Siyal said that since paddy was a high-delta crop, it used up share of irrigation water of other crops as well. “It ultimately leads to drought-like conditions in tail-end areas of canals,” he said. Minister for Agriculture Mohammad Ismail Rahu said that having good structure and texture, loam and sandy loam soils on the left bank were suitable for crops other than paddy. Due to cultivation of paddy on the left bank, the area under cotton and sugar cane cultivation was decreasing year after year.Keeping in view all these factors, mainly waterlogging and damage to other crops, the chief minister had decided to impose a complete ban on the cultivation of paddy on the left bank of the river, they said.
He directed Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah to make it binding on revenue authorities to keep vigilant eye on rice cultivation on the left bank and ensure destruction of existing nurseries forthwith.The agriculture department suggested to farmers on the left bank to grow low-delta crops such as mung, beans, watermelon, melon, cucurbits and other vegetables. The chief minister took a policy decision and directed the chief secretary to impose a ban on cultivation of paddy crop on the left bank of Indus under Section 144. The paddy nurseries would be razed in June-July and farmers would be sensitised to avoid cultivation of paddy.The chief minister directed district administrations to ensure implementation of the ban with the assistance of police.