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HYDERABAD: The farmers of Sindh claimed to have suffered losses to the tune of around Rs.50 billion due to the flash floods entailed by the heavy monsoon rains across the province.

The Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB), which lobbies for rights of the farmers, claimed here on Sunday that the crops of dates, cotton, onion, chillies, cauliflower and other vegetables had been destroyed.

A meeting of the board, chaired by Vice President Mehmood Nawaz Shah, pointed out that the farmers were supposed to harvest 220,000 tons of dates but the torrential showers destroyed around 150,000 tons.

Shah said the dates were either ready for harvest or were being dried up when rains began to lash the province.

According to him, the cotton farmers suffered immensely due to water shortage from March to June and the heavy rains starting early July destroyed the crops in the cotton belts in Sanghar, Mirpurkhas and other districts.

In addition to that more than 70 percent of onion had also been ravaged in areas of Tando Allahyar, Matiari, Mirpurkhas and other districts, he claimed.

“The losses will further increase if the incessant rains continue,” he warned. He said the devastation of the crops had happened at a time when the country was already dealing with high inflation and the farmers were affected by the same in the form of doubling of the cost of inputs.

Shah claimed that urea, which was the highest consumed fertilizer, was still not available at the company declared rates.

“The agricultural economy is under stress,” he observed, adding that the situation would also leave a negative impact on the economy of Pakistan in coming months.

“It is therefore important that short and medium-term measures are taken to rehabilitate the agricultural economy,” he asserted.

The SAB recommended that as part of the short term measures the government should provide interest free loans to farmers of the rain affected areas in addition to waiving taxes and agricultural loans as well.

The board pointed out that Kissan Card was being worked out for 2 years but its distribution among the farmers had not yet started.

The SAB demanded card’s distribution should be started forthwith.

The growers also called for making disaster management bodies more proactive.

As part of the medium term measures, the government was requested to restore capacity of the old and natural drains like Dhoro Puran, Dhoro Naro and others so that the rainwater could be timely drained.

The SAB underlined the need of making Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) and Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD) functional.

The board suggested that a crop insurance scheme should be introduced to at least to facilitate small and medium sized growers.

The farmers said the establishment of a climate emergency fund was also the need of the day in view of the recurrence of extreme events.

Syed Nadeem Shah, Aslam Mari, Imran Bozdar, Arbab Ahsan, Mustafa Nawaz Shah, Taha Abbassi, Mehtab Lund and other office bearers and members of the SAB attended the meeting.

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