Erratic rainfall — particularly in rain-fed areas like Taxila, 20 miles northwest of the capital, Islamabad — has further exacerbated farmers’ problems and led to a slump in yields. With four dry winters in a row since 2008, deciding which crops to grow, and if they should continue to cultivate traditional crops such as wheat, has become increasingly complicated for farmers.
Rain-fed areas contribute 12 per cent of the 24 million tonnes of wheat produced annually in Pakistan. Wheat is an important crop for Pakistan’s agricultural economy, accounting for 3 per cent of GDP and earning around US$600 million in foreign exchange reserves through exports each year.
But with the rains now arriving in January rather than the second week of December — as reported by the Pakistan Meteorological Department in Islamabad — wheat yields have been falling, and many farmers are now abandoning the cultivation of their lands and moving to urban areas, where jobs are scarce and they eke out a living working in brick kilns, hotels or even begging.
With World Water Week underway and the global spotlight on water-related issues, Saleem Shaikh spoke to farmers in Taxila about their struggles to adapt to erratic weather patterns and their decisions over whether to continue with these traditional livelihoods.
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>