Badshah Munir, a typical farmer had taken an orchard of persimmon fruit on lease and was hopeful that the yield will be surplus but due to irregular torrential rains and hailstorm all the standing trees were devastated and the fruit spoiled and desiccated . This was a huge loss for this farmer who had taken the orchard on lease in Raghagan village of Tehsil Khar. The loss is estimated at 6 lacs of rupees. He said that up till now government has not compensated him in any way.

According to Syed Imran Shah, an officer in the Agricultural department, due to excessive torrential rains, standing crops become spoiled and the fields are swept away. In effect, they cannot be made cultivable so soon.

These farmers from Bajaur, Pakistan has fashioned an old bicycle into a plough for his fields

These farmers from Bajaur, Pakistan has fashioned an old
bicycle into a plough for his fields

Due to these abrupt seasonal changes, in Bajaur Agency other cereal crops and fruit trees have been badly affected, such as wheat, maize, peach and loquats etc. Giant trees have shriveled and dried and several useful medicinal and other plants of great ethnobotanical importance have become endangered due to these mysterious seasonal changes.

According to the statistics of a very exhaustive and thorough survey of the Agriculture Department,3454 acres of cultivable land has been affected due to heavy rain falls and hailstorms and the loss is estimated at 48.36 million of rupees. Maize is the most affected crop, followed by olive and tomatoes.

The table depicts to some extent the loss in the previous year due to unbridled and irregular rainfalls. Although the whole of Bajaur Agency has been affected, the following five Tehsils are affected worse.

Losses to due  snow in 2015

S# Tehsil Crop Damaged (Acres) Losses in Million % of Crop damage
1 Salarzai Corn 1500 11.4 38
Olive 55 6.78 90
Tomato 40 2.16 90
Paddy 800 1.36 38
2 Wara Mamund Corn 232 4.64 32
Olive 13 1.78 50
3 Loy Mamund Corn 243 1.55 32
Olive 13 1.51 85
4 Nawagai Corn 350 3.8 50
Tomato 135 8.1 50
5 Barang Corn 40 4.1 50
Tomato 33 1.18 60
Total:- 3454 48.36

 

Bajaur Agency has seen the worst seasonal changes and climatic aberrations. This is attributed to natural as well as man- made factors .Bajaur has been an agricultural region for thousands of years and still most of the people are attached to this profession. According to the census of 1998, the population of Bajaur was roundabout 5 lac persons. However, these days it has climbed up to more than 13 lacs. Approximately, 70 % of the inhabitants are sticking to this agriculture as their primary source of income while the rest of the people have taken other miscellaneous jobs and some descend down to Karachi and some go abroad. Due to seasonal changes, agricultural land and yield of the crops have been badly affected and this has greatly straitened the circumstances of the farmers and tenants. They have become doubly poor due to these vicissitudes of the climates.

Miftahuddin, an officer in Agricultural Department, disclosed that due to change of snowfall periods has shifted from November- December to February – March, in Bajaur Agency .And that is the main reason for the main reason for the tremendous shortage of water. Everyone in the Agency still have anxiety and potential fear lest the utterly dry and barren years of 2001 and 2002 may not recur. Thousands of families had migrated due to famine and dry long spells when the people yearned for a single drop of rain. Miftahuddin believes that due to ecological changes and freaks of nature, there is no homogeneity and regularity in natural phenomenon such as rain. Sometimes torrential rains sweeps the whole landscape and great flood occurs, followed by lengthy dry spells, making the arable landscape scorched and barren.

According to Miftahullah, wheat and maize crops have borne the brunt of this seasonal vicissitude and the yield has come down to by thirty percent these years. There is no bound to the sorrows of the tenants and farmers when the whole fodder is desiccated due to torrential rains which strike the wheat plants during harvesting times, spoiling both the grain and the fodder. Moreover, the schedule of the maize crop has also been greatly affected as this is now sown one whole month later as was done previously.

Full maturity of this crop requires 100 to 120 days, but due to seasonal twists and aberration, this crop is now sown at the end of July instead of the first week of June. The harvesting lingers on unil the chilly months of winter, spoiling crops and making moldy, black, bitter and almost inedible.

Hanif Ullah

About Hanif Ullah

Hanif Ullah is freelance journalist based in North west of Pakistan. Hecovers human rights, climate change, and women's issues.