After the rain

Editorial Board
Monday, Mar 27, 2023

Lahore on Friday saw the start of rains that are expected to continue across the province as well as in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which also received its share of heavy rainfall in some cases combined with hailstones. Lahore received 47mm of rain, while the KP also received a high amount of rain on Friday with Bannu recording 57 mm. While people may have enjoyed the unexpectedly good weather, especially with the start of Ramazan, these rains are really out of season and were not expected for the month of March at all. The time also means that in most areas of Punjab, and also KP, the wheat crop is standing and the grain has not yet ripened but is vulnerable to the elements. There are predictions that rain at this time of the year, a result of climate change which is affecting the globe, will badly affect production of wheat and possibly also production of other items which Pakistan exports, such as mango.

The situation is a disaster for farmers across Punjab and KP. We have done very little to educate farmers about climate change and what to expect in terms of unseasonal rain or unexpected weather activity. In this case, the rains come at a time when Pakistan is already facing food insecurity as a result of the superfloods which hit Pakistan last year, especially Sindh. The current situation means that Punjab and KP too will struggle to raise enough food to feed people, given that wheat is the staple in the country.

This naturally means the import of wheat if it is possible to obtain it, given Pakistan’s shortage of foreign reserves and the fact that the country is dangerously close to default. Whatever reserves we have, are they enough to bring in wheat into the country at market prices? The suffering of farmers whose crops have been devastated is also not being considered as we look at the overall picture and wonder when the government will see climate change as a very real crisis which has to be dealt with as effectively as possible in a country which is badly hit by greenhouse emissions even though it produces almost none in the global percentage itself. More and more we are reminded that the Global North owes us and countries like us reparations, aid, and technological help regarding the changing climate.