KARACHI: District Umerkot Sindh is among the five top food-insecure districts of Pakistan and 40 percent of population has poor food consumption and occasionally intake of vegetables and pulses whereas 45 percent population has on borderline food consumption.
Ali Akbar Rahimoo Executive Director of Association for Water, Applied Education and Renewable Energy (AWARE-an NGO working in the area) during a project launching in Umerkot to overcome the food insecurity said the major causes were uneven land distribution and water shortage in district.
Juman Darbadar an agriculturist said government was not taking into the consideration the hardships of the area. Around 56 percent of the total area of Umerkot district is desert while the rest 44 percent is cultivable but long rotations of water canals has created the worst situation especially for poor people.
All the cultivable land is not under cultivation, 47 percent of the cultivable farms are not brought under plough mainly due to shortage of water, he added.
Karim Bux Shaikh a social activist said 71 percent of the farmers of district Umerkot were small farmers, having possession of only 2.5 acres of land on average. Next 23 percent are medium level landlords having 10 acres on average.
Collectively both of these categories make 94 percent of the total farming community of the district but they have to survive on only half of the total cultivable land, rest is in possession of the affluent landlords who make only 6 percent of the total farming community yet occupy half of the total cultivable land and their average access is 74 acres each, Shaikh added.
Agriculturist Manzoor Hassan Bhatti said drought like situation in district Umerkot was outcome of the existing canal system. Long rotations even 45 days wait for water, so small farmer is unable to produce cereals, vegetables and fruits, so the food insecurity will rise in near future.
Mohammad Siddiqe a practitioner working on overcoming the issue of food insecurity in Umerkot area said there was need to improve the farming practices and growing vegetables and fruits locally would provide opportunity to inhabitants having fresh vegetables and fruits.
He suggested promotion of inter cropping and value chain development of vegetables and fruits was need of hour.
Mohammad Bux Kumbhar a representative of civil society organisation shared hybrid seeds and inorganic fertilizer was destructive for land, so use of farmyard manure should be enhanced in production of crops and managing soil.
Project: Reducing Food Insecurity by promoting (on farm) enterprise development through inter-cropping cultivation of fruit plants and vegetable in district Umerkot Sindh launched by AWARE with support of Oxfam Novib and under that project 120 small farmers will be supported to grow vegetables and fruits to overcome the food insecurity issue in area. Saroop Malhi, Abdul Haleem Soomro, Bansi Lal Malhi and others demanded government of Sindh should take sizeable measures to overcome the issue of food insecurity especially in Umerkot, Tharparkar, Badin and Thatta districts.
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