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    Jawzjan wheat cultivation likely to drop

    SHIBERGHAN (PAN): Wheat cultivation in rain-fed areas of northern Jawzjan province is expected to fall by 60 percent due to a lack of rains and snowfall this year, officials and farmers said on Wednesday.

    Jawzjan has inadequate irrigation water, with most of farmers growing wheat on barren lands. Growers fear a lack of snowfall and rains would leave their crops parched this year.

    "Last year, I grew about 8,680 kilograms of wheat in the Dasht-i-Laili desert and the yield was more than 70,000 kilograms. But this year I plan to cultivate only 280 kg, because of a meager rain and snowfall," Abdul Shakoor, a farmer of Arab Khana village, said. Throughout the winter, he said, the province received rainfall only twice.

    Another farmer, Haji Naeem, 50, also said he was worried about the situation. "If there is no rain until Feb. 20, then no one will cultivate wheat," he said.

    Agriculture promotion department head, Sayed Massoud, said that farmers cultivated about 28,245 hectares of land with wheat last year, but the cultivation reduced to 70,838 hectares this year, showing a 60 percent decrease.

    Climate expert, Ghulam Rassoul, says 180 millimeters of rain and snow is required for wheat crop cultivated on barren land. However, he said there were only 4 millimetre of snow and 8 millimetre of rain since the start of the winter this year.

    Deputy Jawzjan mayor, Mohammad Zahir Nazari, said that low wheat cultivation would send flour price high in summer. "We are worried that people will face problems due to food shortages next summer," he said.

    Provincial agriculture officials say wheat produce last year was about 104,710 tonnes and the yield for next year is expected to decrease due to lack of rain and snow.

    frm/ma



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