Climate change poses negative impacts on seasonal fruits

PESHAWAR   -   Highly vulnerable to climate change, Pakistan witnessed excessive rainfalls last month, which caused negative impacts on the overall production of seasonal fruits orchards and vegetables besides adversely affecting farmers’ income.

Breaking the past 63 years’ rainfalls record, the May 2023 excessive torrential rains coupled with hailstorms have negatively impacted the production of summer fruits including watermelon, melon, banana and mangoes besides tomato and other seasonal vegetables in the country including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The Met Office spokesman told APP on Tuesday that the national rainfall recorded last month was excessively high and above average ie plus 127pc and stands second wettest rainfall in May during the past 63 years as 34.30mm of rainfall was recorded in 1987.

Agriculture Department official told APP that the record-breaking rainfall and hailstorms have badly affected the production of watermelon and melon in Charsadda, Nowshera, Swabi, Mardan and DI Khan districts.

He said that the standing rains water in low laying areas has slowed down the pace of growth of watermelon and melon in agriculture fields and started dying forcing affected farmers to premature cultivation to avoid huge financial losses.

In the Chamkani fruit market, one kilogram of mango was being sold at Rs150 to Rs200, watermelon at Rs50- 70 and melon at Rs80-100 per kg.

Malayar Khan, a progressive farmer of Mohib Banda Nowshera said that he had cultivated melon and watermelon on five acres of land that were badly affected by the last month’s torrential rains. He said that farmers of watermelon and other seasonal vegetables and fruits received huge losses and demanded compensation.

Dr Muhammad Naeem, Assistant Professor of Economics and Agriculture, University of Swabi said that watermelon, mangoes, banana and melon orchards were highly vulnerable to climate change. He said that fluctuations in rainfalls, glacial retreats, floods, higher average temperature and frequency of droughts were causing negative effects on agriculture and fruit productivity in the country.

He feared that crop yields were likely to decrease in the upcoming years not only because of flooding and torrential rainfalls but also due to a rise in temperatures and deforestation that would cause rapid melting of glaciers in high all pasture zones besides dropping off the water table.

He said about 55.87% of watermelon was produced in Punjab, 21.29% in Balochistan, 10.29% in Sindh and 11.84% in KP and its production was on the decline side due to climate change and fluctuation in weather patterns.

He said fertile land was mostly required for watermelon and melons having 1200 variants growing in more than 96 countries including Pakistan and in case of excessive rainfalls and glacier outburst its production were affected. He said that climate change, deforestation and global warming besides soil erosion could be countered through whopping plantations.

Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, Deputy Project Director, of the 10 Billion Trees Afforestation project told APP that Pakistan was among 10 countries most affected by climate change and largescale plantation was the only viable option to counter its negative effects on humans, wildlife, aquatic and agriculture crops. He said climate change is expected to increase the frequency of heavy precipitation in the country, especially in KP, which can harm agricultural crops by eroding soil and depleting soil nutrients.

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