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Of the four major provinces affected by the monsoon floods in 2010, Sindh was the worst in numbers of people impacted and displaced. Over 30% of the more than 7.2 million flood-affected people in Sindh have been temporarily displaced, with many people staying with host families or in organized and informal camps in urban centers and along roadways. Main agricultural crops such as rice, cotton and sugar cane have been severely affected. Since agricultural land in Sindh remains under water, or is covered with sand and silt deposits from the flooding, planting for next year’s wheat crop is likely to be delayed.
Wheat flour, agricultural labor, livestock fodder and bamboo/timber poles markets were selected for the assessment; each is of critical importance to millions of subsistence farmers and landless laborers in Sindh, who were identified as our target population.
Wheat is a primary food staple in Pakistan. During crisis times, even the poorest groups in Sindh are reluctant to shift their consumption patterns to alternative food sources such as rice. The federal government sets the government wheat purchasing price in late September each year. Government-purchased wheat is put in storage facilities and then released at fixed prices throughout the year to large flour mills. Flour is then purchased, distributed and sold by wholesale traders within the province. A parallel market system is in operation for small farmers who typically grow wheat for their personal consumption and as seed stock. The immediate impact of the floods is that rural families who are usually self-sufficient in wheat flour throughout the year now rely on urban-based retail markets. Prices for wheat flour have risen and are likely to increase in the coming months. While there appears to be an adequate short-term supply of wheat grain and flour in government warehouses and mills, the challenge of rehabilitating flood-damaged cropland may prolong wheat shortages and lead to increased prices.
Main recommendations for the wheat flour market include: cash transfers or food voucher for emergency needs; cash for work for rural livelihood recovery; district-level food security assessments to help inform the recovery agenda and identify the potentially food insecure population.
Agricultural labor in the region is divided into skilled and unskilled, and regular and seasonal labor. Most rural households rely on agricultural work for income throughout the year. Gender differentiation in agricultural labor is the norm, with women and children seasonally employed in different types of labor and typically earning less than men. Seasonal migration to neighboring districts for agricultural work is also common. In areas where strong kinship is prevalent, seasonal work can be paid in in-kind or by opening up lands for grazing livestock post harvest. The damage to standing crops and likelihood that winter season planting will be delayed will reduce employment opportunities for many agricultural laborers in Sindh. Wages are under threat, as seasonal employers are hiring more workers to do the same amount of work. The assessment team also found that the lack of employment opportunities, especially for landless laborers and indebted workers, is likely to lead to an increase in rural-urban migration.
Main recommendations for the agricultural labor market include: cash transfers or food voucher for emergency needs; cash for work for rural livelihood recovery; cash grants to support livelihood asset replacement and to provide materials for skilled crafts people; and support for gender-focused agricultural opportunities.
Livestock is an important component of Pakistan’s agricultural markets. There are three main sources of livestock fodder in Sindh: grazing, crop residues and green fodder crops. In normal times, wheat straw and other by-products from the milling process are the predominant fodder commodities sold during the late summer months in Sindh. The Sindh fodder team found two categories of fodder producers: commercial producers are those who grow wheat and green fodder crops for sale in the market and subsistence producers who produce fodder for their own animals or directly for sale to nearby rural households. Flood damage to standing crops of green fodder and sugar cane (whose leaves and stalks form a significant crop residue for livestock late in the year) is likely to be high, and will exacerbate the annual "fodder gap” that exists in late winter. Losses of stored wheat straw, a low cost fodder material, is also assumed to be significant. While the assessment team found some evidence of de-stocking or selling off of livestock assets, this appeared to be related to a need for cash rather than an absence of livestock fodder and feed.
Main recommendations for the livestock fodder market include: cash transfers or food voucher for fodder purchases; institutional support for veterinary services and producing higher yields; and distribution of green fodder seeds and fertilizers for rabi season planting.
In normal times, both bamboo and timber pole plants (locally called manjhandari) are the main materials for walls and roofs in lightweight shelters, as well as raw materials for the paper pulp industry. Almost all bamboo cultivation in the country comes from Punjab. Most bamboo farmers sell to traders, who clear-cut the cultivated bamboo, arrange transportation and sell it to wholesalers, larger retailers or paper pulp factories. Unlike bamboo, manjhandari are grown locally. Households receives manjhandari seeds for free from paper pulp factories. Households harvest manjhandari every two years by directly hired seasonal labors or by traders who arrange harvesting and transportation. While the flooding had little impact on local and regional plantations where these crops are grown, much of the bamboo and timber poles is intended for the paper pulp industry. Given the slow rate at which the international community is providing emergency shelter support to flood-affected families, the available supply is likely to meet a moderate, short-term demand. The biggest impact on the bamboo and timber pole markets is likely to occur in March 2011, when the government housing reconstruction program begins.
Main recommendations for the bamboo/timber pole market include: encouraging regional procurement of bamboo/timber poles for emergency shelter reconstruction for shorter periods; discouraging use of bamboo/timber poles while encouraging the use of filed bricks for construction; and providing guidance on disaster-resistant building materials.