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Drought hits hard Arghistan fruit orchards

Drought hits hard Arghistan fruit orchards

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Jan 09, 2019 - 21:31

KANDAHAR (Pajhwok): Drought has affected half of fruit orchards in Arghistan district of southern Kandahar province, shrinking the production of pomegranates this season, farmers say.

The farmers say the underground water level in Arghistan has significantly plummeted as a result of the prolonged dry spell and water in Karezinfo-icon systems reduced by 80 percent. They urged the government to build the Lora dam in the district to resolve the water scarcity issue.

Tribal elders of the district say they had shared the issue with the governor’s  house, the provincial council office and the president.

One of them, Haji Kudaidad, told Pajhwok Afghan News the underground water level had gone down and residents lacked resources to irrigate their farms.

He said the people had been awaiting rains, but there was no raining as yet while winter had begun.

The elder said the drought had gripped the entire of Kandahar, but Arghistan was among the worst-hit districts.

He said residents of Arghistan district were depended on farming and livestock and the ongoing drought had affected both of their income sources and 50 percent of fruit orchards had parched. As a result of the drought, he said, the pomegranates’ yield was extremely low.

He said construction of Lora Dam was a fundamental solution to the water shortage in the district. He said the government had repeated promised to construct the water reservoir, but no practical work could be initiated.

Another elder, Mullahinfo-icon Agha Jan, said growers and orchard owners irrigated their lands through the Karez system but water in the system had reduced by 80 percent due to the drought.

“This is the main issue which has compelled the people to migrate elsewhere,” the elder said, asking the government to reconstruct the Lora Dam in order to enable people of Arghistan to stand on their own feet.

Karez is an indigenous method of irrigation in which groundwater is tapped by a tunnel. After running for some distance the tunnel comes out in the open and the water is conducted to the command area.

Arghistan district chief Haji Bashir Ahmad said the drought affected the production of pomegranates in the district this year.

He said if the Lora Dam was constructed, it would bring under irrigation barren lands not only in Arghistan district but also in Takhta Pul, Dand and Daman districts.

Acting Kandahar governor Abdul Hanan Munib said the president had approved survey for the Lora Dam and once the survey was completed, practical work on the project would be launched.

He said besides the Lora Dam, a number of small dam projects had been approved for the district and work on them would be launched in the new year.

Provincial rural development and rehabilitation director Mohammad Nasim Ayubi said 80 percent of Kandahar province was affected by the drought this year and they had started managing water resources to deal with the situation.

He said his department had been able construct six small dams in Arghistan, Daman and Maiwand districts during the past five months to preserve rain water.

He said this new year another 25 small dams would be built and as many Karez systems rehabilitated in Arghistan and other districts.

The Lora Dam is situated in Syed Anwar village of Arghistan district. Its first survey was conducted by a foreign firm six years ago.

According to the survey, if raised 35 meters, the dam has the potential to store 175 million cubic meter water and generate two megawatts of electricity.

The dam’s construction needs $30 million and essential surveys to take 18 months and its construction will take three years.

Arghistan district is located 100km southeast of Kandahar City, the provincial capital, near the Durand Lineinfo-icon and borders Pakistaninfo-icon’s Balochistan province’s Manzaki area and Shahr-i-Safa district of Zabul province.

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