- Title: PAKISTAN: Farmers' livelihood buried under flood mud
- Date: 2nd October 2010
- Summary: SMALL GIRL WALKING THROUGH RUBBLE
- Embargoed: 17th October 2010 13:00
- Location: Pakistan
- Country: Pakistan
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVA45WNBKWT20YE5SRYF1OVW3IXX
- Story Text: Farmer Mohammad Ayaz and his family took refuge on nearby treetops and stayed there for three days when floods ripped through his village in northern Pakistan.
Weeks later, deep layers of sand, silt and dried mud cover an area where he once worked - green, fertile fields.
Ayaz may not be able to generate income again from his from his sugar cane fields for two years unless expensive heavy machinery like tractors are quickly brought to clear the area.
"We had never thought of anything else except our work at the factory. We used to be very busy. I miss the feeling of holding sugarcane and slicing it, and make gur (raw sugar) from it. When I recall those times, tears roll down my eyes. I think that factory and gur (raw sugar) will never return to me," said Ayaz, recalling life before the floods which damaged or destroyed crops over an area of 2.4 million hectares in Pakistan.
Pakistan's government will need to focus on reviving the livelihood of farmers like Ayaz in the aftermath of one of the worst disasters in the country's history.
Agriculture is the mainstay of an economy that was already fragile before the floods destroyed bridges and roads and made 10 million people homeless.
Hundreds of nearby villages look like Ayaz's. Crops lie six feet underground in some areas along with processing facilities. Labourers spend hours each day removing bricks lodged into solid dirt to clear small paths.
Floodwaters literally diverted the Swat River about a kilometer sideways, swallowing houses and drowning wheat, maize and sugarcane fields.
Life for tenant farmers is particularly tough now. They have already paid their landlord rent money for the next two harvests, money lost.
As winter approaches, chances for unrest will increase if the government fails to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing for Pakistanis and ensure food security.
"We are worried very seriously...We can't do much about it. It's basically the responsibility of the authorities who are concerned. We can of-course, we are prepared to help them whatever way we can," International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies President Tadateru Konoe told Reuters after visiting Charsadda.
The government may be headed for another showdown with the judiciary. Media speculation is rife that the military may try to manipulate politics to avoid instability after Pakistani leaders' perceived mishandling of the floods.
The government may be too busy to act decisively to tackle issues such as the farming crisis, possibly leaving Taliban insurgents a chance to recruit Pakistanis disillusioned with the government.
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