Bringing science and development together through original news and analysis

Erratic weather threatens livelihoods in Pakistan



[TAXILA, PAKISTAN]
 
In recent years, climatic stresses, particularly droughts and floods, have devastated yields and caused crops to fail for many farmers across Pakistan.
 
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. 
Republish
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.