Kharif Crops Face Potential 30% Water Shortage

Web DeskApril 3, 2024603 min
Kharif Crops Face Potential 30% Water Shortage

The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has issued a warning of water shortages of up to 30% for the Kharif crops, which include cotton, rice, and maize. The projected water scarcity is attributed to high system losses, posing challenges for farmers during the sowing season. The shortage is expected to decrease to 7% during the late season. For the Kharif 2024 season, Irsa projects a total water availability of 63.61 million acre-feet (MAF), with Punjab receiving 31.13 MAF, Sindh 28.81 MAF, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 0.82 MAF, and Balochistan 2.85 MAF.

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During a meeting of the Irsa Advisory Committee (IAC), attended by representatives from various stakeholders, including Wapda, provincial irrigation and agriculture departments, and the Meteorological department, the committee unanimously agreed on anticipated inflow data for the Early and Late Kharif 2024 seasons. Total inflows at rim stations were estimated at 99.41 MAF, with 23.55 MAF expected in the early season and 75.87 MAF in the late Kharif. However, system losses were estimated at 13.67 MAF, contributing to the projected water shortages. The committee also reviewed system operations during the Rabi 2023-24 season, expressing satisfaction with the overall seasonal close despite a 17% shortfall.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) forecast higher-than-normal temperatures during the Kharif season, alongside lower-than-average winter snowfall in the catchment areas of Indus and Jhelum rivers.

To address operational challenges, Punjab and Sindh will establish discharge observation cells (DOCs) at various locations to monitor water discharges effectively. Additionally, a committee comprising Irsa members and chief engineers from Punjab and Sindh will review and monitor operational sites to address constraints. In response to concerns raised during the meeting, Wapda assured that all irrigation requirements would be met during the Kharif 2024 season.

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