It would be premature at this juncture to guesstimate the extent and scale of agricultural losses caused by the floods in Sindh, as economists believe that this exercise will take at least another three to four weeks. Last year, it took the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) roughly two months (after the peak of monsoon season) to come up with a comprehensive damage and needs assessment report, which put a figure of Rs855 billion on account of flood-related devastations. The floods have caused a huge loss to the agrarian economy of Sindh with serious implications for the national economy, which is still reeling from the effects of last years floods and the situation in Karachi. Experts in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture are worried that the sugarcane crop, which was to be harvested this month, is likely to stay submerged until next month due to the floods. They contend that if the crop remains in water for more than 15 days, the per-acre yield deteriorates, sometimes up to 50 percent of the potential yield. Similarly, the cotton crop is usually vulnerable to viruses and fungi once the water subsides. Such circumstances make damage assessment difficult. There is little doubt, however, that these torrential rains are bound to have an adverse impact on the countrys economic indicators. Firstly, the export volume of affected commodities may be lower due to the loss of cotton bales, lower per-acre rice yield, and obliteration of famous export items like green chillies and dates. Already there is an upward increase in raw cotton prices quoted in the international commodity markets due to the loss of the crop in Pakistan. The State might also end up importing cotton yarn and essential vegetables to absorb supply-shocks. Secondly, the agricultural losses may also chip away at Pakistans GDP growth in FY12. According to the latest Economic Survey, Cotton accounts for 6.9 percent of value added in agriculture and 1.4 percent of GDP.Sugarcane is a major raw material source for the production of white sugar and gur; its share is 3.6 percent in value added in agriculture and 0.8 percent in GDP.Rice, which is the second largest staple food crop in Pakistan and is a major source of export earnings in the recent years.accounts for 4.4 percent of value added in agriculture and 0.9 percent in GDP. Thirdly, there is an inherent risk that the prices of essential food commodities may spiral, as witnessed during and after the great floods last year. Take sugar for instance, the deterioration in sugarcane yield and quality would mean less, not more sugar availability in Sindh after the upcoming crushing season in November. This may put sugar prices under pressure from the onset of next year. Any extraordinary hike in the FY12 CPI inflation would pose a serious macroeconomic dilemma for the State Bank, which reduced its discount rate by 50 percentage points in August, anticipating the inflation for the ongoing fiscal year to stay within 12 percent. The PPP-led government is looking for foreign aid and external help to overcome the present crisis. However, last years experience shows that an inflow of money from richer nations will not come so easily. So, if it continues to depend mainly on foreign aid and assistance for relief work, then the situation is likely to worsen. The affected people have been left to their own devices to survive in the impossibly difficult situation. After this natural calamity, a man-made crisis is likely to unfold. The floods are due to the abnormally heavy rains during the monsoon season in July and August. The number of people affected is significantly greater than several major disasters around the world since 2000. Little clean drinking water is available for many of the people, who are affected. Food and medicines have not been provided to those who need them most, i.e. pregnant women and children suffering from diarrhoea and cholera. The catastrophic loss of livestock, crop lands, and extensive damage to the countrys infrastructure, are projected to have long-term negative effects on Pakistans food security and economic performance. Based on last years experience some medium and long-term consequences of flooding can be projected. Lost livelihoods for farmers (e.g., not being able to plant next seasons crop) and a diminished food supply is a key concern. The flooding has destroyed crops, food stockpiles, livestock, seeds, structures, and equipment. Food prices will dramatically increase, putting an economic strain on the entire population. It is estimated that the cost of rehabilitation of the flood-affected population and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure in different parts of the country could be in the range of $4-5 billion. Experts in the Planning Commission have put the figure between $3.5 and $4 billion. The loss of production and commercial activities in Karachi, and now the devastation caused by the floods in Sindh, are convincing indicators that we should get ready for another poor year for the economy, in terms of the rate of growth in the national product, pace of job creation and interpersonal and inter-regional income distribution. According to a former Finance Minister and Ex-Senior Vice President of the World Bank, The governments prediction that GDP in 2011-12 would increase by 4.1 percent now seems extremely optimistic. Given some of the shocks the economy has received in the last few days, it appears that the national product will not increase by more than 2.5 to 2.8 percent this year.If that came about, Pakistans current economic expansion will be less than one-half that of Bangladesh and one-third that of India. Pakistan today is South Asias sickest economy and will remain that way unless the policymakers move decisively. The writer is a retired secretary of the Government of Pakistan. He belongs to the former Civil Service of Pakistan. Email: shakeelahmad941@hotmail.com