Sindh has enormous potential for agricultural development but our past successive rulers have not made any efforts to improve, upgrade and modernise the agriculture, irrigation system, water management, agricultural education and research, health of livestock, transport, telecommunication and rural economy. At present only about 25 percent of its arable land is cultivated, using few inputs and characterised by low productivity. The vast majority of farmers are smallholders. These farmers are extremely vulnerable to external shocks such as volatile global markets and drought and other natural disasters. Smallholder farmers form the largest group of poor people in the province. A large number of poor households face a prolonged hunger season during the pre-harvest period. Herders, like farmers, are vulnerable to increasingly frequent drought, which can wipe out their livestock and assets and bring on severe poverty.

It is seen that the persistent lack of water is a major factor in rural poverty. Drought has become more frequent and severe throughout the province over the past decade, and the trend shows signs of worsening. However, the provincial rulers have to carry out far-reaching institutional and policy reforms so as reduce poverty and increase spending on agriculture, education, health, irrigation system, water management, transport and telecommunications.

HASHIM ABRO,

Islamabad, June 22.