By Kamran Chaudhry
Riaz Husain is a farmer turned labourer in the flood ravaged Waran Sehran village in southern Punjab province.
“It took three months of hard work to cultivate cotton and mung beans. When the 10 feet wave came; all vanished in a single night,” said Husain as he sat square legged on his 15 acres of land now covered in silt.
His damaged mud house lies a few yards with two collapsed rooms. The two buffalos, with whom he evacuated before the floods, also graze in a straw shed at a corner. In the compound lies his mud logged tractor which was carried away by the giant wave. Husain later found it more than a kilometre away from his lands.
Taking matters into his own hands, he has now erected a two feet boundary wall. The slow rebuilding commences when Husain returns home in the evening from Layyah, a city 15 km away, where he works as a labourer on a construction site.
“I spent over one hundred thousand rupees on cultivation and had lots of hopes with the harvest. But I had to opt for a daily wage to feed nine children,” Husain continued.
Caritas Pakistan started livestock vaccination camps for farmers like Hussain soon after the flooding. To date, 3530 farm animals have been vaccinated to make them more robust against disease in four camps held in four different dioceses.
Caritas is also investing in improving infrastructure to improve farmers’ access to markets.
Supporting farmers is crucial in avoiding a food crisis situation, says Amir Irfan, National coordinator of Caritas’ livelihood programme.
“Eighty percent of the food victims are dependent on agriculture as their source for income. In the absence of timely and effective measures to protect the spring harvest and help livestock flourish, the country will be plunged in multiple crises including food shortages, livestock mortality and price hikes,” he said. “Milk production has already declined to 50-60 percent.”
Abdul Rahman, another farmer in Waran Sheran, requested subsidised fertilisers and wheat seed.
“The wheat sowing periods start in a few days and we have no money to start cultivation. The government should provide provisions on farm supplies rather than the compensation money of 20,000 rupees (US$ 231) so we can start work,” he said.