Pakistan Agriculture News, Water

Irsa forecasts 38pc water shortage for Rabi Season

ISLAMABAD – Indus River System Authority’s advisory committee on Monday projected 38 per cent water shortage for crop cultivation during the current Rabi season.

The meeting of the IRSA’s advisory committee held here to determine the share of the provinces for the Rabi season was chaired by Chairman IRSA Sher Zaman and was attended by officials of Wapda, Secretary Punjab, Secretary Sindh, representatives of Balochistan and KP.

The advisory committee estimated 18.99 Million Acre Feet (MAF) river inflows during the Rabi season and water storage will stand at 5.89 MAF. The Irsa body also projected system losses at 1.73 MAF. It noted that water flow below Kotri barrage would be 0.04 MAF and water availability at canal head had been estimated at 23.11 MAF. The Water Accord 1991 empowered IRSA to determine water availability in the country and provincial share twice a year, once for Kharif season and the other for Rabi season. Rabi season starts from October 1 while Kharif starts from April 1.

It is pertinent to mention here that earlier the Member Irsa from Sindh had told parliamentary committee panel that country’s Rabi crops would face 50 per cent water shortage. However, Irsa Advisory Committee  has projected 38 per cent water shortage for Rabi crops which may lead to food security situation due to crop cultivation on less area. Wheat is the largest crop in Rabi season.

Gram, lentil, tobacco, rapeseed, barley and mustard are some of the other Rabi crops. The Irsa body also allocated 12.18 MAF water share for Punjab, Sindh 9.21 MAF, KP 0.70 MAF and Balochistan 1.02 MAF. It was informed that total 23.11 MAF water would be available during Rabi crops 2018-19 starting from October 2018 to March 2019.

Met official briefed the Irsa body that winter rains will be below normal. Irsa advisory committee asked provinces to use better management techniques to utilise the available resource.

The official of Metrological department forecasts no rains in October and November. In late December and January, there may be rainfall but in upper areas only, he added.

In the current Kharif sowing season, total water shortage has been recorded at 21%. Province-wise breakdown shows Punjab has faced 20% shortage, Sindh 17%, Balochistan 44% and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 33%.