Agriculture Sector Amidst Climate Chaos: Challenges and Threats
Greta Thunberg wasn’t the first person to realize human beings don’t have a planet B. Years after the industrial revolution and increased carbon content in our environment, world leaders observed the signs of changing environment. With the depleting ozone and changing global temperatures, climate change’s progression highlighted the need to take quick and effective action. Scientists warned that climate change could have dramatic effects if we failed to comply with an effective plan. Scientists were scared of a climate crisis in the future. But now, Climate chaos isn’t a future possibility anymore; it is happening – and it is happening right now.
Climate change has significantly affected rain patterns in Pakistan; there is too much rain at the wrong time. The rains this year were abnormally abundant and exceeded the 30-year average. Many areas in Pakistan even experienced rain for 72 hours continuously. According to Pakistan Meteorological Department, Balochistan experienced 501%, and Sindh experienced 625% more rainfall than usual in the first half of July alone. It caused floods that affected over 33 million people and drowned one-third of the country.
Before the rainwater could drain out, there was another problem: the rivers already had large amounts of water. Pakistan has about 7,253 glaciers in the Hindu Kush and Himalayas. Thanks to the increase in global temperature, many of these are melting. These melting glaciers drain inland or increase the river water volume: forcing the rivers to overflow instead of taking in the standing flood water.
The floods experienced this year are nothing but a climate catastrophe. They flushed away 88% of sugarcane, 45% of the cotton, 31% of the rice crop, and 85% of the dates Sindh. Floods also resulted in staple vegetable crops – tomato, onions, and chili – being destroyed, causing an economic impact of $374 million. These floods drowned a significant amount of money; according to the initial estimates, Sindh’s agricultural sector losses were over Rs500 billion.
Unfortunately, this might just be the start of the changing climate’s wrath; what’s coming ahead is scarier. The rain patterns are going to change more. It is very likely for Pakistan to experience more rainfall in the following years too.
Rain floods, unlike river floods, do not add any nutrient value to the soil. In fact, it washes away all the nutrients from the ground. It makes it unfit for harvesting for several months after the water is drained. Moreover, wheat cultivation in Pakistan starts in October, which only gives Pakistan one month to drain the water and restore the agricultural land. If the government fails to drain the standing water on a war footing, farmers will sow no wheat this season; hence, we might not have wheat next year, which adds another threat to Pakistan’s food security.
Although floods threaten Pakistan’s food security, they highlight the urgent need to adapt to new circumstances. Pakistan contributes only about 0.5% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions; its geography increases its vulnerability to climate change. This climate catastrophe and the following sense of injustice call for the international community to take responsibility by improving its policies and increasing accountability.