LAHORE - The release of water by India in River Sutlej and heavy monsoon rains have so for affected kharif crops on over 20,000 acres in Punjab, it was learnt.  Farmers and officials of concerned departments predict 10 to 15 per cent initial loss to rice and cotton crops, saying production target of main kharif crops might not be achieved.

“In terms of losses to agricultural produce, it will be too early to provide any firm estimate at this stage. However, a snapshot of the main kharif crops in Punjab provides some pointers on the likely impact of the floods,” said an official of the agriculture department.

The met department had forecast widespread rain and thundershowers with scattered heavy falls in Punjab in coming days. The crops in district Kasur are mainly hit by Indian flood water and heavy rains generating flash flooding caused damage to crops in Sargodha, Gujranwala, Lahore and DG Khan divisions.

“India has released water in River Sutlej, Beas and Ravi which will damage kharif crops at 20,000 to 25,000 acres,” said Agri Forum Chairman Ibrahim Mughal, adding the sowing area of sugarcane, rice and cotton was less and the flooding would further hamper the production targets. He said the sugarcane was sown on an area of 2.3 million acres, rice on an area of five million acres and cotton was sown on 7.3 million acres in the current year.

According to Mughal, the government had set the target of 65 million tons of sugarcane, 4.3 million bales of cotton and six million tons of rice for the current fiscal year.

“In past, we have achieved targets of 40.7 million bales of cotton, 6.9 million ton of rice and 70 million ton of sugarcane,” he held. Imposition of GST on agriculture inputs, high prices of diesel, loadshedding, floods were the main reasons behind the low production of major crops, said Ibrahim. He was of the view that lesser production of rice and cotton would further widen the trade deficit.

Basmati Growers Association President Hamid Malhi held that about five per cent loss in rice production in districts of Sialkot and Narowal was expected due to heavy floods in the area. Malhi demanded of the government compensation for the rice farmers affected due to floods.

An official said that damages of the crops were not only limited to North and Central Punjab but it would put severe effect on cotton crops in South Punjab and interior Sindh if the heavy rains continued.

“The cotton crop is most vulnerable to floods but in case of sugarcane, almost all major sugarcane producing districts in Punjab and Sind are so far not affected by floods. However, in case of rain and low floods, sugarcane production expected to remain high as the crop is relatively resilient to flooding. Rains may improve water contents of the crop thereby increasing its weight.”

Another farmer held that the current monsoon rains would have a positive impact on agriculture production and is likely to increase production of major kharif crops including rice and sugarcane in the country.

 However, he said that heavy rains may negatively impact on production of cotton in the country as heavy rains or above normal rains lead to various diseases in the cotton crop and a large quantity of water does not benefit cotton yields.