Food shortages feared in Samangan
AIBAK (PAN): Lack of a proper irrigation system and an ongoing dry spell could lead to severe food shortages in the northern province of Samangan, farmers and officials warned on Monday.
"The drought has severely affected this province, where standing crops are drying up due to the absence of irrigation waters," the provincial agriculture director, Abdul Razzaq Rahimi, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Farmers had cultivated around 92,400 hectares of the rain-fed land with wheat crop in the province, but 50 percent of the crops in some areas have not had any rain since planting this year, he said. Nearly 30 percent of wheat crop cultivated over 14,000 hectares of land had dried due to lack of enough water in rivers, he added.
"If there is no rain in the next few days, the remaining wheat crops sown on high places could also become dried," the official said.
"My 13 acres of wheat crops dried due to a lack of rain this year," Abdul Khalil, 36, a resident of Hazrat Sultan district, said. The situation has left him with no option, but to travel to Kabul for labour to earn a living for his family, the farmer said.
"We come across with the same problem every year, it is not only this year. When there is no rain, water level in river decreases that further adds to the situation," Khal Mohammad Bai, 68, another farmer, said. He urged the government to construct water dams in the province for irrigation purposes.
Last year, wheat production in the province stood at 156,957 tonnes and the crop was cultivated on 115,000 hectares of land, according to the agriculture director.
"If the government constructs dams at important locations, it will help meet demands of farmers," Rahimi said. Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock had been informed about the situation in Samangan, he said.
The drought also affected the rate of wheat in the province over the last one month as the price of seven kilograms of wheat increased to 145 afghanis against its previous rate of 90 afghanis ($1.95) a month before. Residents are worried about the soaring prices of wheat.
"I have no idea how to deal with the situation while the winter is approaching," Mohammad Jafar, a resident, who is only bread-earner for his six-member family, said.
Agriculture ministry spokesman, Abdul Majeed Qarar, said the construction of dams was responsibility of the Ministry of Water and Energy. Officials of the Ministry of Water and Energy could not be reached for comments.