Snags in flood compensation

On the cards
Flood affectees of 2010 still await monetary help in the shape of Watan Cards they were promised
By Tahir Ali

 

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/may2012-weekly/nos-13-05-2012/pol1.htm#3

Even after almost two years since the devastating 2010 flash-floods hit the country, financial support to flood affected people – the citizens’ damage compensation programme (CDCP) – is still a long way to go as only Rs20 billion of the total payable around Rs48bn have been disbursed by April 5 this year.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has exceeded other provinces in the provision of compensation amount to the flood victims, thanks to its expertise in dealing with militancy compensation programme in the militancy-hit Malakand division and the Bajaur and Mohmand agencies.

Out of the total amount of Rs20.03bn distributed in the country so far at the rate of Rs20,000 per head per tranche, KP has distributed Rs9.06bn and almost completed the second phase while Punjab has disbursed Rs7.71bn, Sindh 2.89bn, AJK Rs0.16bn, Gilgit Baltistan Rs0.12bn and Balochistan only Rs0.065bn.

While KP accounts for 45 per cent, Punjab 38 and Sindh 14 per cent of the payment, the rest of the areas each account for less than one per cent.

KP is ahead of other provinces in the processing of Watan Cards too. Out of total 0.79mn flood-hit persons in the country, Watan Cards for 0.739mn have been processed. While in Sindh the cards of 0.14mn out of 0.164mn (or 84 percent) and in Punjab, 0.31mn off the 0.338mn cards or 92 percent have been activated, KP has processed 0.263mn cards off the total 0.276mn or over 95 percent. Balochistan has processed 3271 out of the total 3732 cards.

According to an official of KP government, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, for a flood compensation house damage was made a criterion but it was only flood support and not house compensation as that required huge funds which was beyond KP’s resources.

The government earlier had paid Rs0.4mn for a fully destroyed house and Rs0.16mn for partially destroyed one in militancy in Malakand division but the amount was mostly provided by foreign donors, which was not the case for flood compensation.

“The strategy was approved in the Council of Common Interest (CCI) meeting following the floods. While Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan went for blanket coverage of the affected districts, KP could not do so for its limited resources and, instead, it argued for limited payment after verification on the basis of complete or partial damage to houses,” said the official.

Despite remarkable success, there are allegations of political influence in the registration process of flood affected people and corrupt practices.

Though official data put the number of beneficiaries for compensation at 0.789mn and 0.275 in the country and KP respectively, a worker with a non-governmental organization during the floods, wishing anonymity, said actual flood-hit people were far less than projected.

The official said Watan Cards were even distributed amongst ‘beneficiaries’ from areas not hit by floods altogether or who hailed from those areas of the affected districts that remained safe from floods.

“The number of ‘affected people’ was increased to accommodate the lists given by political leaders. These inflated lists of ‘affected people’ put burden on the meagre financial resources as less money had now to be distributed amongst too many. This explains why the government had to slash the compensation money to Rs60,000 from the earlier pledged Rs100,000 per affected person,” he informs.

A social worker from Nowshera said that 20-30 persons from Zakhi Maiana Nowshera, whose houses were damaged by floods, haven’t been issued cards.

The official rejected the allegation of political registration saying the World Bank’s third party validation had termed the registration process fair and that’s why we were able to begin subsequent phases for compensation across the province.

“The beneficiaries were selected by a committee in each union council, comprising Patwari, teacher, elected public representative, Pak Army personnel (where available as in Swat) and local elders. Later, the PDMA submitted the compiled data to NADRA for verification. After verification, they were granted compensation through Watan Card. Later, after the third party validation by the World Bank on the basis of Phase-I survey, a list of 0.27mn recipients was generated for the payment of 2nd and 3rd tranches under CDCP- Phase-II,” says the official.

“The government and donors have tried their level best to ensure objective and accurate data, exclusion of the well-off and inclusion of legitimate flood affected people but if even then a deserving person has not been issued card during phase-I and Phase-II, he/she may submit his/her appeal at each Nadra grievances cell at Watan Card nominated centres in each district of KP.

However, some problems on the beneficiaries’ side, e.g., their fingerprints mismatched, they provided incorrect CNIC numbers, had another beneficiary in the family, had double entries or provided wrong or incomplete addresses, etc, caused delays,” he added.

As for the allegations of registering recipients from areas not affected during floods, the official explained it was because the compensation was meant both for houses that were damaged by floods and rains in July and August, 2010.

There are also problems on the development side, according to sources. “Despite commendable performance during the emergency relief and early recovery phases, the pace and quality of the third phase of development has been greatly undermined by nepotism, political intervention, mismanagement that has resulted in over-focus on certain areas, duplication in work and wastage of funds, corruption and for lack of accountability owing to the decreased focus of the media and government. And worst, the social work has become a business for many an unscrupulous people,” said the worker.

The official, however, rejected the allegations of corruption and political interference and said that the efforts have been made for transparency and to avoid any duplication of work so that resources may not be wasted. “A separate rehabilitation and reconstruction directorate in the province has also been established to ensure transparency and coordination between the development partners,’ he said.

He defended the NGOs which, he said, helped the government cope with catastrophes and therefore deserved and got every possible support.  “In the early recovery phase, local and international NGOs built makeshift transitional shelters for the flood victims but these were of no use as they started constructing their homes themselves soon after. The phase of building permanent shelters for the people later begun but the facility was mostly availed by those who weren’t hit by floods. And the poor most of the victims couldn’t get shelters as they lived on rented land and the owners/landlords didn’t allow them to have shelters built for them. The government should have allocated state lands for these people,” he added.

caption

Out and waiting.

 

No end in sight

There are complaints of difficulties in receiving money from banks. Long queues of beneficiaries, including women, are seen in front of designated bank branches.

To offset this, in October 07, 2011, the state bank of Pakistan directed all commercial banks to make special arrangements to ensure that their ATMs were operational, cash was replenished in a timely manner and that no service charges were required on the use of Watan cards from the beneficiaries.

Floods inflicted a loss of around $10bn on Pakistan. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa suffered $1.2 billion losses and requires $2.2 billion for the flood reconstruction. However, foreign donor support hasn’t arrived as expected. It seems issues of transparency, poor planning, donor fatigue and indifference of local leaders to provide their due in donations are to be blamed for the phenomenon.

According to UN figures, of the $2.6bn funded – actually contributed or committed – so far by foreign countries for flood victims in Pakistan, over $372mn are still to be paid. Strangely, most of the contributions were made by Non-Muslim world and the Muslim countries lagged far behind. Amongst the top 10 donor countries, contributing around $1691mn, $1617 were given by former and only $228mn were funded by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates of which $90mn are still non-committed pledges. The USA, Japan and UK with $683mn, $301 and $224mn are the leading donor countries.

 

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Sluggish wheat harvesting in KP

Issues in wheat harvesting
By Tahir Ali

http://dawn.com/2012/05/21/issues-in-wheat-harvesting/

THE unusually cold, rainy/cloudy and windy weather in April and May in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has delayed wheat harvesting in various stages across parts of the province.

The harvesting process has been completed in KP’s hot southern climatic zone (Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Lakki Marwat etc.,) last month and continues in the central zone (Peshawar, Charsadda and Mardan etc.). The crop in the northern zone (Swat, Dir etc) will mature later, farmers say.

According to Sahibzaman and Abdul Jabbar, farmers from Swat, and Nasir Khan, a farmer from Dir, wheat crop will be ready for harvesting in a fortnight in lower Swat and Dir areas but in upper/cooler parts of the districts will be ripe by end of next month where harvesting and threshing usually last till July.

Abdur Rahim Khan, general secretary Chamber of Agriculture KP, said wheat harvesting in central zone would be over within a week or so.
“Harvesting in the area is usually completed by the end of April but this year the cold weather delayed maturity. The farmers also feared that the harvested crop lying in the fields for threshing, may get damaged in case it rains. The manual reaping of the crop takes a lot of time,” he said.

Mr Khan recalled that gone are the days when farmers would reap their crops through Ashar –where farmers would help
each other in harvesting and threshing.

“Farmers in KP now mostly get their crop harvested through labourers. The labourers and farmers share the crop in different ratios. In Peshawar, for example, labourers get 1/10th of the produce as remuneration. In other areas, they are hired on daily wages ranging between Rs250-300 plus meals and stay,” said Khan.

An official of the KP agriculture ministry said government farms and big private farms hired reaper machines for harvesting but it was predominantly done by hands.

“Small landholdings, poverty and illiteracy of farmers in KP have rendered mechanised harvesting difficult and farmers either reap the crop themselves or hire labourers. But the shortage of trained harvesters is adding to their woes,” he said.

Mechanical harvesting is faster and reduces post-harvest losses by a great margin, said the official.

“A farmer with five acres hires labour for manual crop cutting, which costs him 13-14 maunds (over Rs18,000 at the rate of Rs1312/50kg) and takes 7-10 days. And if he goes for mechanised harvesting, it will take him 10 hours and cost him only around Rs10,000 (at the maximum rate of Rs1,000 per hour rent of the harvesting machine),” he argued.

According to farmers, labourers work in groups, visit the fields or hujrah of farmers and make deals with them. These harvesters usually are known in the area and can be contacted on cell phones.

Women harvesters are usually paid less than their male counterparts. A farmer Safdar Ali said a woman in his village single-handedly reaped his crop over five jarib at1/10 the share of the yield

Land under wheat cultivation increased from 0.724 million hectares last year to 0.758mh this year but continuing drought in the province in the critical period of grain formation, especially in the southern zone, hit the crop badly.

Farmers from DIK, Peshawar, Mardan and Swabi say the wheat crop in irrigated lands is healthy but over 50 per cent of the crop in rain-fed areas, that forms 55 per cent of the total wheat acreage in KP, has been lost.

Sabz Ali Shah, a farmer in Mardan, said his five jarib (2.5 acres) of non-irrigated land could produce only 12 maunds of wheat against the output of 60-80 maunds in previous years.

Another farmer Gul Raj Akbar said eight wheat harvesters took two days to cut his crop on six canals at the rate of 1.3 maund/jarib. “The yield was 25 maunds of which the labourers got around two maunds (100kg). Divide this amongst eight labourers and each got only six kg a day. Is it justified for the hard work they do,” he asked.

A farmer Manzur Haider, however, said, five labourers reaped his crop at 10 jarib (five acres) in less than three days and got 14 maunds in return at the rate of 1.4 maunds per jarib harvested.

“More than the lack of rain, the sale and use of substandard DAP has also damaged the crop. And while the prices of DAP and urea have more than doubled in the last two years, wheat support price has been marginally increased from Rs950 to Rs1050 per 40kg,” he added.

Mr Zaman said Swat crop would have been even larger had better seeds been provided to growers and lands hit by floods reclaimed by provincial authority.

An Unhealthy trend: high rate-spread

An unhealthy trend
Unusual banking spread is one of the reasons of the stalled industrial and business growth in the country

 By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2011-weekly/nos-18-12-2011/pol1.htm#3

The huge banking/rate spread — the difference between the average rates of returns on deposits and the average rate of interest on loans — in the country may have helped increase the incomes of banks but it surely is one of the biggest reasons of the stalled industrial/business growth and below capacity production in industries that result in increased joblessness. It also leads to less saving, less investment and unjust income distribution.

Despite enhanced net income — after tax income of banks which was minus Rs2.8bn in 2000 rose to Rs54.5bn by 2009 — banks are reluctant to increase the rates of return on deposits as high rate spread is also one of the main tools of profitability for banks.

According to a bank manager at the national bank, who wished not to be named, the average deposit rate is 5 percent against 15 percent average rate of interest in the country.

While the average rate spread is around 3-5 percent in most countries, it is much higher in Pakistan. According to the SBP data, it was 4.63 per cent in June 2003 but increased to 8.90 percent in July, 2011, which means that the lending rate is greater by that extent from the rate of deposits.

If high rate-spread indicates lack of efficiency and competitiveness in the banking system on the one hand, it also signifies the failure of regulatory authority — the State bank of Pakistan.

The SBP, which is authorised under the SBP Act, the Banking Companies Ordinance and some other laws to make sure that banks do not exploit the depositors or the borrowers and earn profits through legitimate business practices, needs to review the existing rate spread and bring it down to a normal range.

Successive SBP governors, including Dr Muhammad Yaqoob and Shamshad Akhtar, while acknowledging that depositors were getting negative returns, had also urged large banks to increase the return on deposits or the State Bank would intervene to get results.

According to one estimate, interest rate in Pakistan is highest in the region. With business and industries already hit hard by terrorism and energy shortage, lending rates need to be brought down to a single digit to save them from bankruptcy, encourage private loans demand and spur economic growth in the country.

But if the banks reduce the rate of interest on loans but simultaneously cut down the deposit rates as well or increase both the rates of interests and rates of return on deposits by the same amount, the spread rate will practically remain high. So, any effort to slash the spread not only requires cutting down the lending rate but also increasing rates on deposits.

Despite inflation of around three percent, the United States decreased interest rates to almost zero percent and the European Union to just above one percent to push growth and create jobs.

High rate of interest, the main factor for huge rate spread on the back of small returns on deposits, is one of the main reasons for the rising loan defaults, below capacity working of industries, job cuts and surging non-performing loans calculated at Rs630bn in September 2011.

The high cost of funds is not only leading to industrial closures and defaults, the government, taking huge loans from commercial banks, is also drastically affected by the trend and is compelled to slash development funds, increasingly rely on borrowing and printing of new currency to meet its fiscal needs.

The difference in the interest rate being paid by the government for the domestic and external loans will illustrate the point. At the current rate of interest (14-15 percent), the government’s debt servicing costs stand at $10bn on domestic loans of$80bn. Conversely, it has to spend only around $2bn on external loans of $61bn given at an average rate of three per cent.

It is worth asking that when some local entrepreneurs in Mardan could offer as much as 50 percent net profit per annum through their investment schemes, why banks can’t increase the amount of profit on deposits for the depositors, the lifeline of the banking system in any society?

“One thought that privatisation of banks would entail better services at reduced cost for most of the customers, but it has, conversely, made banking costlier, exploitative and anti-poor,” argues a lecturer of economics, wishing anonymity.

Commercial banks are earning huge sums of money due to high interest rate on the one hand and giving less profit on deposits on the other. Why would people go for depositing their money in banks when they could reap comparatively higher returns on their savings by spending them in real assets like investment in real estates, transport and other businesses?,” he asks.

While the banks have reduced rate of returns and increased lending rates to augment their financial gains, the poor consumers have been the real losers. High rate of inflation of over 15 percent per year for the last several years has aggravated the problem.

Depositors receive negative returns on savings when the rate of return on savings is less than the rate of inflation. For example, if consumers are given 5 percent of returns on their savings and inflation rate is 15 percent, savers will annually lose 10 percent of the purchasing power of their bank deposits.0

Commercial banks, both public and private, are believed to have deprived the depositors of around Rs1100 billion profit during the last 10 years by only avoiding the inflation rate formula of 2001 applied to fix the profit rate, says a report.

The absence of a genuine investment opportunities or ignorance thereof on part of the people notwithstanding, people have but to keep their savings in these less attractive bank accounts.

Quite a few people in the country, under the urge to avoid Riba (fixed return on savings) keep their savings in current accounts with no interests thereon. But banks are free to use their amounts any way they want and even earn money over these amounts by lending it to others.

According to a news report, bank deposits increased by 269 percent from 2001 to 2010, bank assets by 268 percent whereas growth in pre-tax profit has been 9,991 percent. He said banks earned Rs1.1 billion in 2001 which rose to Rs111bn in 2010 but the real average rate of return (minus rate of inflation) which was 3 per cent positive in 2001 came down to minus 6.5 percent in 2010.

Apparently, depositors are deprived of their due profit share because of the policy of writing off loans to the influential.

Banks, apparently, are more interested in interest profit than affording genuine and high rewarding investment chances to their consumers. And why would the banks increase the deposit rates and decrease interest on loans in the backdrop of excessive government borrowing which could help it overcome the low demand from the private sector.

Loan defaults, frequent withdrawal by the deposit holders from their accounts, less fixed deposits, concessional loans, high rate of inflation and incessant devaluation of currency etc hinder banks from decreasing the spread,” says the manager.

Low-cost loans are opposed for reasons that they trigger inflation that’s why the SBP followed a tight monetary policy that kept the policy rate high. But the question is did this policy succeed? Could inflation be controlled and economy improved?


On affordable and accessible agriculture credit

A small beginning
Banks must simplify and re-structure their lending mechanism
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2011-weekly/nos-04-12-2011/pol1.htm#3

Financial help of farmers is necessary for the modernisation of farming and farmers’ prosperity. But small farmers who, according to some estimates, constitute 85 percent of the total 6.6 million farmers in the country, have negligible share in the agriculture credit disbursed in the country in general and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in particular. Those residing in the far-flung hilly and tribal areas are particularly affected by it.

Financial exclusion of the small farmers who have little resources to approach the research and extension systems, coupled with their illiteracy and poverty, keep away from commercial farming and expose themselves to low productivity, eventually adding to severe financial hardships.

They, in turn, have to rely on informal sector for their credit needs offered at higher rates, leaving them in a vicious debt-cycle and poverty trap.

Acknowledging that agricultural credit disbursement was worse in KP, the SBP launched some agriculture-credit schemes as part of its financial inclusion programme for KP but credit disbursement ratio couldn’t improve.

Countrywide, less than 2 million farmers of the total 6.6 million, get agriculture credit facility. The situation in KP, which accounts for less than 4 percent of the national agriculture credit disbursement and where over 90 percent are characterised as small farmers, is particularly dismal. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa accounted for Rs 7.9bn or only 3.4 percent of the total agriculture credit of Rs233bn in 2009. Only six percent of farmers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have access to agriculture credit against 21 percent for the country.

Various easy credit schemes, support price mechanism and subsidy regimes in the past were designed for small and medium scale farmers, but they scarcely benefited from the schemes and big landlords were the main beneficiaries.

One of the main reasons of small farmers’ financial exclusion is their inability to be bankable — to be able to provide collateral (the explicit or implicit guarantee against the possible risk associated with the loan) to banks as most of them are tenants, who don’t have any property registered in their names or own land below the required level.

Plenty of these farmers, especially those in villages, are also influenced and kept from applying for credit by the Riba-element, a necessary part of credit but avoided by most on religious grounds.

Small farmers have been practically neglected in the existing provincial agriculture policy developed in 2005. The policy has, however, yet to be updated to focus them despite several announcements.

As per the prudential regulations for agriculture financing, banks are required to ensure disbursement of working capital/short term loans within seven days but it is usually delayed. “The entire formalities for any agriculture loan require lengthy documentation and procedure and take around two to four months to get the loan,” says a bank manager on condition of anonymity, when asked about the process of loan delivery.

“Small farmers should be given loans on personal guarantee. Group-based credit schemes are being followed by small banks but needs to be taken up by the main private banks as well to improve credit disbursement ratio in the country. Crop and life insurance is the best way to decrease the risk of farming community against losses and of banks against non-repayment,” he adds.

Some farmers hold the banks responsible for low agriculture credit in the province. “The banks are risk-averse. They avoid lending loans to farmers for fear of default. Much has been said of the one-window operation but no bank as yet has come out with a fast track mechanism for credit disbursement. The banks must simplify and re-structure their agriculture lending mechanism and mobile credit officers should reach farmers at their doorsteps to boost credit delivery,” says Shahid Khan, a farmer in Mardan.

Last year, the KP government revived the erstwhile cooperative bank and promised to provide Rs1 billion seed money for easy farm and non-farm loans to small farmers from the bank but practically just Rs200mn were released. This year too, Rs400mn will be released. How can credit ratio be improved with this? 

Under agricultural loans scheme through the passbook system, banks are bound to allocate 70 percent of their loans to subsistence farmers but whether the law is followed is not clear.

In group-based lending, developed by the SBP, small farmer groups are formed by the lenders involving 5-10 members having identical needs and registered with the former. Collateral is generally not used and is replaced by personal guarantee —-a joint liability agreement/undertaking — takes its place wherein each member takes the responsibility of the outstanding debt of all group members. In case of any change in the group, a fresh guarantee would be signed by the members.

A group coordinator acts as facilitator of the group and agent of the bank. The bank ensure that group coordinator is executing the assigned tasks as prescribed like liaison with members, arrangement of meetings, etc, and if need be replace him, with the consensus of the group, in case he fails to deliver. Group members ensure that the bank receives timely repayments from individual borrower/group members. But if a borrower dies, liability lies to remaining group members. However life insurance is urged to safeguard the interests of both the borrowers and lenders.

Everyone who owns or is a tenant or lessee over up to12.5 acres of land or have more than 40 sheep, has computerised national identity card, residence in the village and membership in the village organisation, is eligible for crop or non-crop loans in the scheme. 

Though globally 12.5 acres of land is the threshold of subsistence farming but in Pakistan one having that much land is considered a rich person given the phenomenon of small land holding in the country. According to an estimate, cultivated land per person in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stands at just at 0.2 acres. The benchmark needs to be brought down for bank credit if small farmers are to be benefited.

Repayment schedule for farm loans may be set as per production cycle of crops and for non-crop activities, like livestock farm establishment, it should be three to five years.

 

https://tahirkatlang.wordpress.com 


Flood compensation highest in KP

Flood compensation highest in KP

By Tahir Ali
2nd April, 2012
UNDER the damage compensation programme for citizens, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has so far disbursed the high amount as compared to other provinces.

KP has benefited from its experience in providing relief to affectees in militancy-hit areas.

Out of the total of Rs18.61 billion distributed in the country by March 20 at the rate of Rs20,000 per tranche, KP has distributed Rs8.48 billion, followed by Punjab Rs7.16 billion, Sindh 2.66 billion, AJK Rs0.1 billion, Gilgit Baltistan Rs0.12 billion and Balochistan Rs0.052 million. Total sum allocated for the country is Rs48 billion.

While KP accounts for 46 per cent, Punjab 39 and Sindh 14 per cent of the cash disbursed, the rest of the areas each account for less than one per cent.

KP is ahead of other provinces in the processing of Watan Cards too. Out of a total 0.79mn flood affected people in the country, Watan Cards for 0.72mn have been processed. While in Sindh cards of 0.13mn out of 0.164mn or 84 per cent and in Punjab, 0.31mn of the 0.338mn or 92 per cent have been activated. KP, however, has processed 0.261mn cards off the total 0.276mn or over 94 per cent. Balochistan has processed 3,271 out of the total 3,732 applications.

According to an official of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), for flood compensation house damage was made a criterion but it was only flood support and not house compensation as given in Malakand as it required an enormous fund which was beyond KP’s resources.

“The strategy was approved in the Council of Common Interest meeting following the floods. While Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan went for blanket coverage of the affected districts, KP could not do so for its limited resources and instead argued for limited payment after verification on the basis of complete or partial damage to houses,” said the official.

Despite remarkable achievements, there are allegations of political based registration of the flood-affected people and corrupt practices. According to allegations, elected peoples’ representatives and political parties gave the lists of their blue-eyed, not necessarily deserving ones. “Some areas which had not been affected by floods were also included in the compensation regime,” he said.

The PDMA official rejected the allegations and said the World Bank’s third party validation had termed it fair and unbiased and that’s the reason that they were able to start the second and the third phase in the province.

“The affected people were selected by a committee in each union council, comprising Patwari, teacher, elected public representative, army personnel (where necessary as in Swat) and local elders. Later, after verification of the data by Nadra, the affectees were given compensation through Watan Card. Later after third party validation by the World Bank on the basis of Phase-I survey, a list of 0.27mn affectees was prepared for the payment of second and third tranches under the CDCP- Phase-II,” he said.

“The government and donors have tried their best to ensure an accurate data, exclusion of the well-off and inclusion of legitimate affected people, but even then if any legitimate affectee has been left out during phase-I and Phase-II, he/she may submit appeal at the Nadra grievances cell at Watan Card nominated centres in each district of KP,” he added.

As far the allegation of registering affectees from areas not affected during floods, the official explained the compensation was not meant only for flood-affected houses but for any house that was damaged during the torrential rains and floods in the last week of July and first week of August, 2010. People have mostly ignored this fact.

Though official data put the number of affected entitled to compensation at 0.789mn and 0.275mn in the country and KP respectively, the IOM worker said actual flood affectees are fewer — around 0.080-0.090mn at the most.

Though the government had earlier resolved to provide Rs0.1mn as floods compensation, it had to slash it to Rs0.06mn later for shortage of funds.

Floods inflicted a loss of around $10bn on Pakistan. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa suffered $1.2 billion losses and required $2.2 billion for the flood reconstruction.

However, foreign donors’ support hasn’t arrived in promised quantities as expected. It seems the issues of transparency, fiscal incompetence, poor planning, donor fatigue and indifference of local leaders to provide their due in donations has kept the world from it.

There are complaints of difficulties in the receipt of money from banks. To offset this, in October 07, 2011, the state bank of Pakistan directed all commercial banks to make special arrangements to ensure that their ATMs were operational and cash was replenished in a timely manner and that no service charges were recovered on the use of Watan Cards.

KP farmers for review of tobacco prices

Review of tobacco prices

By Tahir Ali

TOBACCO growers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa hope to get a ‘fair’ support price for their crop following a positive response from both the federal and provincial governments to their call for a review of an earlier decision of the Pakistan Tobacco Board in this regard.

First, it was the KP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti who recently had called a special meeting of all stakeholders — tobacco growers, dealers, companies and the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) — to resolve the grievances of farmers about
the support price for their crop.

And now, following legal action and agitation by the growers, a high-powered committee sent by the federal government is talking to them to asses the cost of production (CoP) of the crop that earns billions for the federal government.

Farmers said Federal Minister for Food Security and Research Israrullah Khan Zehri had sent the committee headed by Director-General National Agriculture Research Council Dr Muhammad Sharif to suggest a new support price for tobacco, if needed.

The committee was given a warm welcome by tobacco growers in Swabi. “ It met and interviewed tobacco growers here and would do the same in Mardan, Charsadda and Mansehra,” a farmer said.

“We hope the committee will assess the actual cost of production and recommend a fair tobacco support price and the federal ministry of commerce will notify the new price for this season,” said Liaqat Yousafzai, general secretary of the Kashtkar Coordination Council.

When contacted, Dr Sharif said the CoP assessment process would continue for 10 days in various tobacco-growing districts and views of growers would be sought.

“The terms of reference of our committee are to assess the actual per kg cost of production and identify factors for stated low tobacco support price. Later on the basis of the data collected and empirical evidence, the committee would present its
findings and recommendations to the federal government,” he said.

Mr Sharif said “farmers have told us that CoP for tobacco has increased while they are receiving very low support price. We are collecting data. It will be analysed and hopefully the committee will put forward its report to the chairman Pakistan
Agriculture Research Council after six days.”

The committee doesn’t intend to take views of national and multinational tobacco companies and tobacco dealers on the CoP. But, according to a source, tobacco companies also plan to prepare a counter-report which they will present to the
government.

Mr Yousafzai said farmers in Swabi had informed the committee members that while their average CoP was around Rs240/kg, the PTB had fixed the minimum price at Rs117/kg. “We want to be paid as per the CoP and the minimum price must be fixed taking into account the increase in the minimum and weighted average prices last year, rate of inflation, global tobacco prices, surge in prices of other crops and raw materials and our profit margin,” he said.

Four months ago, the PTB had fixed minimum price of tobacco at Rs117/kg but the growers had rejected it. Later they challenged it in the Peshawar High Court and also started agitation against it.

Asked why the earlier price should be revised, Mr Yousafzai said it had to be. “The Rs117/kg price is very low, unrealistic and illegal as it was announced when the PTB had neither a chairman nor sufficient members, which was a mandatory legal
requirement. The last PTB Chairman had retired one and a half years ago and since then the board was run by its secretary.

We had challenged the lacuna in the court and its decision has come. This is why the committee was sent,” Mr Yousafzai added.

“The PTB is the root cause of all of farmers’ woes. It’s an open secret that some PTB officials have formed tobacco companies. They make sure that tobacco prices are fixed to benefit them. The committee report, we are hopeful, would expose the mutual connections between tobacco companies and some PTB officials,” he added.

Another farmer from Swabi alleged that “some PTB and commerce ministry officials own unregistered tobacco firms and were conniving with the powerful tobacco companies against growers.”

A farmer from Mardan complained that now 29 members have been appointed in the PTB on political basis mostly from Sindh.

Mr Yousafzai, who is also a member of the KP Chief Minister’s committee on tobacco, says “the committee has recommended disbandment of the PTB, awarding crop status to tobacco, and handing over it to the province after the 18th Constitutional Amendment.”

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly in December 2010 had, through a resolution, resented the alleged exploitation of growers by tobacco companies.

Increasing walnuts production in Malakand

………plantation………………
Growing nuts
There is a great potential for planting walnut trees in Malakand and other areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2011-weekly/nos-25-12-2011/pol1.htm#5

The Malakand Division, according to one estimate, accounts for roughly 95 percent of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s walnut yield. Walnut of different sizes, quality, and colour are produced here which are marketed in whole form or its flesh taken out and packed, and is sold in the market. What is being done to increase the yield of dry fruits after the militancy days are over?

In Dir, these days per kilogramme prices of different qualities of walnuts range between Rs100-250 for whole and Rs400-700 for walnut flesh, of pistachio between Rs600-800, of almond Rs150-400 and chilghoza being the costliest of all with Rs1400, according to Saeedur Rehman, a dry fruit dealer in Dir.

Rehman says chilghoza (pine-nut) prices have surged to over Rs70,000 per 50kg (Rs1400) in the whole sale market and it may be sold around for Rs1500-1800 in the open market after adding the transportation charges, dealers’ commission, shopkeepers’ profit and imposition of various taxes.”

Contrary to the general impression, he says, militancy hadn’t badly impacted on the dry fruit production and businesses and opined that prices have come down as compared to last year.

“Prices of whole walnut were around Rs13-14000-50kg last year but this year these have come down to Rs11-12000. It is because there was bumper production this year. While we still have last year’s stock, the produce for this year has arrived in the market.” He believes, “There is no hope for the price-surge as the market is sluggish at the moment. The government needs to make arrangements for purchasing and exporting the commodity. I am sure the country would earn a lot of money in the global dry fruit market by exporting this quality commodity.”

He says, “The price of walnut, a Dir speciality, ranges between Rs5000-12000 per 50kg while that of its pure flesh ranges between Rs22000-35000-50kg. Walnut from Barawal and Bamboret are liked for their big size and taste. The brighter the fleshy part, the higher the price. And the cooler the area where it is produced, the better the taste and quality of the walnut,” he adds.

The sale of the walnut flesh fetches more income for the dealers. That is why people in Dir, rather than selling standing walnut trees or the whole fruit with cover, have started taking out its flesh and packing and selling it. A 50kg sac of whole walnut produces around 22-25kg pure fruit which fetches around Rs22000-35000 in the market, much higher than the whole fruit prices.

The importance of the walnuts cannot be overstated. Dry fruits and winters go hand in hand. While watching movies, reading books or newspapers or partying with friends, dry fruits help warm the body. Dry fruit are not only health-friendly but are also taken as gifts to friends and officials in beautiful packing. But skyrocketing prices are making them an unaffordable luxury for the majority.

Hundreds of tonnes of walnut, pine-nut and other dry fruit are produced in Dir and surrounding districts. Barawal, Dir Kohistan and Garam Chashma, Bamboret and Bony valleys in Chitral produce the best walnut and pine nut. The walnut from Nooristan Afghanistan also reaches the local market.” Experts say walnut helps improve memory, is useful for treating stomach, liver and kidney diseases, for cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure. It helps control cholesterol level, strengthens the walls of blood vessels and prevents diabetes and supports immune system.

Lack of official support, negligence of the concerned departments, continuous deforestation of the existing trees for getting ‘Dandansa’ and other purposes, and non-cultivation of new ones have badly affected the produce.

The government should provide technical advice and support to grow more walnut trees as these are depleting and about 90 per cent of the potential in the area is yet to be utilised.

Rehman was particularly unhappy over cutting walnut trees for getting “dandansa”. “The problem is for dandansa you have to cut down the younger trees whose stem-cover and roots are the best.

Shah Abdar, a Swat-based grower of walnut, says hundreds of tons of walnuts are grown in Bahrain, Kalam and other valleys of Swat, adding that the potential of walnut in the area is not being explored.

Swat is the ideal place for walnut. It usually grows on mountain ridges, in the gorges and river-banks and thus doesn’t impact the already less cultivable land. Walnut could be the greatest source of income for the area people. But despite being the main asset along with fruit, vegetable and livestock, the number of walnut trees has been on the decline and only about 5 to 10 percent of the area in Swat suitable for walnut is utilised..

“The reason for this is absence of personal ownership. The trees so cultivated are often destroyed by the people as there is no sufficient care and security for them. The government and non-governmental organisations need to provide expert advice, walnut plantlets /seeds, and insecticides to farmers to grow more trees. It is only then that the problem will be solved once and for all. In the hope of huge returns, they will do whatever is possible to keep it safe and healthy,” Shah argues.

It can have great financial benefits for the poverty, militancy, and floods-stricken farmers. “Around 5 big walnut trees grow in one canal of land. Farming families usually own less cultivable but much more non-cultivable lands in Swat. If we take the average land per family at 50 canals and the family grows walnut trees on it, it can become millionaire within no time. Just leave the 300kg yield per tree, even if the per tree yield is just 50kg, it will earn the family around Rs2.5million at the current market rate.”

“Though main roads in the area have been repaired to some extent, the link roads to far flung areas are still inaccessible. It leaves the poor people with no choice but to sell their standing walnut trees to dealers on meagre prices, thus incurring losses,” according to him.

Untapped potential of dry fruityield and export

trade
Nuts case Dry fruits
processing, value-addition and exports can earn billions in foreign exchange
By Tahir Ali

Pakistan produces abundant quality dry fruits like almonds, figs, pistachio, walnuts, pine nuts, dates, raisins, dry apricots and peanuts. But its dry fruits exports have been far less for lack of standardised packaging, grading and value-addition and some other policy constraints.

Mechanised grading and packaging has started but, for lack of cool chain system, an estimated 30-50 per cent of the total fruit production is still lost during harvesting, transportation, preservation and storage. Total annual loss of dry fruits in term of rupees is estimated at Rs60 billion.

Dry fruits exports in the last five years, according to Federal Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, were 505,124 metric tonnes. Total dry fruits exported were 81,387 MT in 2005-06 which rose to 99,936MT next year but then dropped to 92,082MT in 2007-08. These, however, rose to 110,885MT in 2008-09 and then to 120,834 the next year.

“The government has taken numerous steps to increase dry fruit exports by encouraging the private sector to develop dry fruits processing units in northern areas of Pakistan, developing of solar processing units, initiating projects for processing and drying of dates in Turbat, Khairpur and DI Khan and sending delegations of exporters to international food fares and exhibitions and potential markets of food items,” he had told the Senate in May last year.

Under the medium term development framework, Pakistan targeted fruit exports of $238 million in 2010 and it reached up to $290 million. These can be increased even further.

But absence of farm-to-market roads, outdated post-harvest techniques for unskilled labour, poverty and ignorance of producers, non-market oriented production, and lack of quality certifications are making it difficult to improve the quality and quantity of exports.

An integrated ‘Cool Chain System’ project worth over Rs13 billion, being envisioned under the national trade corridor improvement programme that aims at 10 per cent reduction in post-harvest losses, is likely to save Rs6 billion annually. But any export development initiative will not bear any fruit unless linkages of stakeholders with international markets are established and close collaboration between the public and private sectors are ensured.

Negligence of the government to tap the real potential of this treasure of Pakistan can be gauged from the fact that out of dozens of projects of the Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHDEC), which are either in operation, near execution or being considered for launching, not a single one is meant for the dry fruit development in the country.

Pakistan’s fruit production is mostly organic and, therefore, acceptable to the world. But non-compliance to the international standards and inability of Pakistan’s 58 trade missions in 43 countries worldwide that are supposed to work for promoting Pakistani exports in close collaboration with trade development authority (TDAP) and PHDEC appear to have restricted its exports and appeal for international consumers.

Dry fruit development also could not find any place in the 12 projects the TDAP intends to launch for improvement of different fruits in the country. Dry fruits such as fig, raisin, pistachio, dry apricot and pine nuts etc face insect infestation at some stage of their storage and transportation. Food Irradiation Technology (FIT) not only saves them from insect infestation but also increases their shelf life. FIT also helps dry fruit exporters meet international quarantine requirements.

Though the federal government had granted approval for the technology in 1996, FIT could not deliver optimum benefits for lack of irradiation facilities in the country.

Pakistan’s fruit exports will get a fillip once its products are produced and prepared in compliance with certain export-related certifications such as the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), Global Good Agriculture Practices (GGAP), British Retailer’s Consortium (BRC), Monitoring of Maximum Residues Limits (MRL) and Fair-trade Labelling Organisations (FLO).

With the world becoming increasingly sensitive to food quality issues, Pakistan’s fresh fruit export industry will have to ensure compliance with international standards and certification mainly focused on food safety, traceability, residues of different agrochemicals, lack of good agricultural practices, reduction of post-harvest diseases and pests and issues pertaining to safety of food packaging materials.

The TDAP and PHDEC should open its regional liaison offices in the dry fruit specific KP, federally/provincial administered tribal and northern areas. The government also needs to open common facility centres, dry fruit collection points, processing plants, product testing laboratories and guidance and counselling centres in the production areas.

There is, regrettably, not a single mention of dry fruit in the current KP’s horticulture policy 2009 as if dry fruits are not part of the sector and as if not produced in the province. Coordination between the TDAP and PHDEC and the Chambers of Agriculture and Chambers of Commerce and Industry should also be improved. The facilitation division in the TDAP needs to have closer cooperation with exporters. A few training institutes for dry fruit productivity/quality enhancement with funding from the export development fund also need to be established.

Cold weather and black marketing by dealers leads to increase in prices of dry fruits as winter comes. Per kilogramme prices of different qualities of walnuts at present are between Rs120-350 for whole and Rs400-1000 for its kernel, of pistachio between Rs600-1500, of almond Rs150-500 and its kernel at Rs400-900, of fig Rs300-600, dry dates Rs100-250, peanut Rs 160-180 and of chilghoza Rs1500-2400 in the open market in different parts of the country.

Despite extensive search and contacts, the exact figure of countrywide production of dry fruits could not be ascertained. Based on an average consumption of dry fruits at nominal one kilogramme per person per month, total annual consumption comes to 2040 million kgs or 2 million metric tonnes.

However, Siraj Muhammad, Deputy Director Information of the Agriculture Ministry Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, says the province produced 13000 tonnes of walnuts, 11500 tonnes of dates, 19000 tonnes of apricot and 25000 tonnes of other dry fruits. Pine nut is Pakistan’s characteristic dry fruit. Several parts of KP, Balochistan, federally-administered tribal and northern areas have plenty of pine trees which could be further increased.

According to an estimate, the total production of pine nut in the country is estimated at 21,000 tonnes. With the current price of Rs70,000 per 50kg (Rs1.75mn per tonne) in the wholesale market, the production is worth over Rs36 billion per year. It could earn plenty of foreign exchange for the country provided the commodity is produced on mass commercial scale.

Walnut production is around 20,000 tonnes per year — mostly produced in KP and Azad Kashmir. With a price of Rs12000 per 50kg (Rs0.3mn per tonne), walnut’s total income is Rs6 billion. That could increase to hundreds of billions of rupees as, according to locals from Malakand division, over 90 per cent potential of the area for walnut and other dry fruits still remains to be utilised.

The horticulture export, according to the national trade policy, was to be made into an industry to enable it to qualify for institutional credit and relief in taxation. The government should announce a rebate in duties and a dry fruit specific export finance scheme for dry fruit exporters. It should provide support to fruit exporters to open their retail outlets in foreign countries. Pakistan International Airline also needs to bring down it freight charges for exporters.

devolution of agriculture: impact on KP

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/mar2012-weekly/nos-04-03-2012/pol1.htm#9

In the process
More steps need to be taken to complete the process of agricultural devolution to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
By Tahir Ali

As ordained by the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the longstanding highly centralised agriculture sector was last year devolved to provinces. It goes without saying that this devolution has increased the responsibilities of the provinces, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They must come to grips with their financial and capacity constraints to deliver on this front as agriculture accounts for livelihood of around 70 percent of people in the country.

Increased powers require capacity enhancement and efficiency on the part of provinces but apparently facing budgetary and capacity constraints, shortage of personnel, lack of sufficient technology, the new beneficiaries seem ill-prepared to look after the devolved subjects.

What are the financial implications and how the province is coping with them? What has it done to increase the capacity of its employees to cope with the new responsibilities?

While acknowledging that problems of capacity constraints are there, officials, nevertheless, claim that KP’s agriculture department is fully capable to cope with the increased responsibilities and functions following the devolution of agriculture ministry to the province.

Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Israr Muhammad, says the province has sufficient resources and personnel to perform the new roles. “We have made elaborate arrangements for the purpose. By fulfilling the longstanding demand of the employees for service structure, we have promulgated the 4-tier formula for the officials serving in the agriculture extension, research and livestock sub-sectors. Again, different sections of the department have been allocated sufficient budgets to train their officials so that they could better perform the devolved functions. The department has correlated its targets with the outcomes of provincial agriculture policy and provincial horticulture policy.”

“While the provincial soil conservation directorate can fully address the devolved functions regarding soil survey of Pakistan, another post of director marketing has been created to look after the devolved agriculture products’ grading and marketing responsibilities,” he adds.

To a question as to what were the financial implications of the devolution for the province, Mr Muhammad says, “We have had to own only a few personnel of the soil survey of Pakistan (SSoP), which was handed over to Punjab but it decided to take only the employees and assets within its territory. Accordingly, we have sent the case of these officials to the inter-provincial coordination (IPC) division Islamabad through the provincial IPC department and the decision is awaited. They will be adjusted as and when the decision is conveyed,” he says.

“There is no shortage of money. The ANP-led government has increased the agriculture budget and it has promised to look after all our financial needs in the wake of ongoing and new projects,” he informs.

He says of the three PSDP projects that were left to the provinces to look after them — the national programme for improvement of water courses, programme for high efficiency irrigation and the crop maximisation project — KP has allocated Rs355million, Rs120mn and Rs170mn for them respectively from its own resources for the current fiscal. The money is sufficient for the year and the provincial government has assured us of financial allocation if need be.”

But the problems remain to be addressed. The PODB has been wound up and its functions devolved to provinces. “If any province or donor agency and foreign country wish to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for developing oilseeds or olive or any other agriculture crop, it will still have to seek approval of federal entities like PARC or ministries like economic affairs division and ministry of commerce,” says an official on the condition of anonymity.

“Had the provinces been fully empowered in this respect, agriculture would have greatly benefited. The provinces also need improved seeds and other services from foreign countries. They either need to be empowered or a facilitation centre needs to be setup for the purpose at provincial or federal level,” he says adding, “The resourceful tea/tobacco research institutes and PARC, etc, have been retained at the centre and only the financially weaker attached departments with only liabilities and no incomes have been handed over to provinces.”

The landmark 18th          amendment had devolved 12 functions and attached departments of the now defunct federal ministry of food, agriculture and livestock (MINFAL) to provinces or other federal ministries.

The devolved functions include those of plant protection; economic studies for framing agriculture policies; farm management/ research for planning; project formulation and evaluation; crops forecast and crop insurance; marketing intelligence; agriculture commodity, market and laboratory research; soil survey and preparing comprehensive inventory of soil resources; production of special crops like UT olive; standardisation of agriculture machinery; economic planning and coordination with regard to cooperatives; socio-economic studies for framing agriculture research policies; and high level manpower training for agriculture research.

As for the attached departments of MINFAL, the agriculture grading and marketing department, agriculture policy institute, department of plant protection, directorate general of food and agriculture, federal seeds certification and registration department, SSoP, Pakistan agriculture research council (PARC) and national agriculture research council, Pakistan central cotton committee, Pakistan oilseeds development boards (PODB) were devolved to provinces, adjusted in other federal ministries or wound up. For example SSoP was handed almost entirely to Punjab.”

The above devolution of functions and attached departments was affected according to the notification of June, 2011. But recently, another entity with the name of federal food security and research division (FFSRD) has been formed which will cater to all the functions of the former MINFAL to ensure food security and coordinate research in the country. The FFSRD is gradually obtaining back all the attached departments that had been handed over to other federal ministries. The export of agriculture items that had been handed over to the ministry of commerce will be reverted back to the new ministry.

   

Housing subsidy for militancy-hit people

home
Out in the open, still
Housing subsidy programme for people in the militancy-hit areas in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies needs to be pursued
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/apr2012-weekly/nos-22-04-2012/pol1.htm#4

While the housing uniform assistance subsidy project (HUASP) for the militancy-hit people in Malakand division is nearing completion, it is still a long way to go in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies, particularly in the latter where not a single penny has been given in housing subsidy despite the lapse of around three years since the millions of internally displaced persons returned to their homes.

According to an HUSAP official, who does not want to be identified, as of March this year, 4919 of the completely damaged and 9500 of the partly damaged house owners have been disbursed Rs3.5bn — Rs0.4 million for the totally damaged and Rs0.16mn for the partially damaged ones — in the five districts of Malakand division — Swat, Buner, Shangla and Dir upper and lower and the federally administered tribal Bajaur and Mohmand agencies.

While only around 400 owners of the fully destroyed and 1000 partially damaged houses remain to be paid in Malakand division, over 4200 of these categories are yet to be paid in the two agencies.

In Bajaur, Rs1.44bn have been paid to 5389 owners of the 2437 and 2952 in the two categories respectively with over 3100 yet to be paid there.

But none of all the 1092 owners of totally damaged and 2 owners of partly damaged houses from Mohmand agency have been compensated as yet apparently for its distant location and security concerns. “The verification and registration process is under process there, through slowly as some areas are yet to be cleared of militants. But these people will also be released their compensation amount as soon as the verification process completes,” the official tells The News on Sunday.

The programme is being undertaken by the provincial reconstruction, rehabilitation and settlement authority (PaRRSA) with financial support from the United Agency for International Development (USAID).

It was originally to be financed by the World Bank but it wanted to pay money in instalments rather than in one go and had conditioned the release of the subsequent tranches to verification whether the earlier amount had been utilised for the purpose or not. WB had opted out of financing the project after authorities went for an owner-driven reconstruction and payment to the affected people uniformly in one go without establishment of an “assistance and inspection” regime. Later, the USAID agreed to the work-plan of the PaRRSA and became its financier.

Rationalising the amount, another official of PaRRSA tells TNS that according to the census of 1998, the average size of a house is 575 sq ft in Malakand region, in which each unit includes two rooms, a bathroom and a kitchen. “Per square construction rate in the region is around Rs700 per sq ft and the estimated cost of Rs0.4mn and Rs0.16mn for reconstruction of the completely and partially damaged houses respectively has been derived by multiplying 700 with 575, which is the amount of compensation being made. The reconstruction cost included the brick, stone and block masonry and the rate is also adjusted for better standards and disaster resilience features,” he adds.

To a question about delay in disbursement of money, he says, “The compensation has been delayed as they are either to be verified, have no bank accounts of their own, or their forms are misplaced or they are out of the country when physical verification was being made or the house that has been damaged is jointly owned or they have mistakes in their names/addresses or have double entries due to which their payment is blocked.”

With an overall outlay of Rs6.58bn for total compensation, the damage and needs assessment (DNA) survey conducted by World Bank and Asian Development Bank for the government of Pakistan in 2009, had estimated that 11755 housing units were completely and 11738 partly damaged in the area. But later, the figure was slashed to 7024 for completely damaged and increased to 13039 partly in the two areas for reasons officials could not explain.

As per the DNA, the grants had to be released in tranches based on stages of construction with technical assistance. The proposed mechanism was to be a cash grant-based, owner-driven model but with close monitoring of reconstruction process. The mechanism was changed later to cash payment in one go but change in mechanism was against the experience and decreased the chances that the money would be utilised for its head.

For example, in the reconstruction strategy after Kashmir earthquake 2005, Rs0.175mn was provided to each affected family in instalments along with house designs and technical assistance. At the end of 2009, 95 percent of the destroyed houses were rebuilt with 97 percent of these according to the standards and hence safer.

But in the case of the 2008 Balochistan earthquake, the affected people were given one-time cash grant of Rs 350,000 and Rs50,000 for completely and partially damaged houses respectively but without any technical assistance or required reconstruction standard. The quality of reconstruction, according to UN-HABITAT engineers, was very poor.

There are rumours the money hasn’t been utilised for the purpose. The PaRRSA official says it is not true, “People adjust their incomes and expenses prioritising their needs. Most have built their homes before the compensation began on borrowed money. Now they can utilise the cash to return their debts they had taken for the purpose or divert the money to fulfil their other needs,” he adds.

The official says the damaged houses included luxurious bungalows as well as mud houses and their reconstruction cost was different. “But with our mechanism, the poor benefitted more. The government has only provided the well-off with token money in return for their sacrifices as it had no resources to provide Rs10 million to a rich person for building his destroyed luxurious house,” he says.

People from Swat also allege nepotism, political interference and corruption in the nomination of affectees and payment of compensation money. Tariq Khan from Miandam says the process became defective when the civil administration and the patwari culture got involved.

Militant control and subsequent military campaigns displaced and destroyed shelters and livelihood of hundreds of thousands in other federally and provincially administered tribal areas — Kurram, Orakzai, Khyber, South and North Waziristan and other areas but apart from relief support, no worthwhile rehabilitation support has been given to the affected so far.

 

biogas plants: from waste to energy

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/apr2012-weekly/nos-08-04-2012/pol1.htm#7

From waste to energy
Installation of bio-gas plants can help meet shortage of gas in rural areas
By Tahir Ali

Despite huge potential and benefits, biogas technology has not been given due attention in Pakistan. With inflation, energy shortage aggravating with each passing day, there is a renewed interest in the technology as this type of gas can be used both for cooking and power generation and its residue as fertilizer and it can also decrease domestic fuel budget, deforestation and pressure on national power grid. It can also contribute towards sustenance of ecosystem and conservation of biodiversity in the country.

Over 4000 biogas plants were installed in Pakistan by the government between 1974 and 1987. But later, it withdrew the financial support which reduced the growth rate of this technology. Only 6,000 plants were installed till 2006. But the potential is even bigger.

There are currently around 47 million big animals in Pakistan. A medium size animal produces around 10 kg of dung per day. Even if its 50 percent is collected, the availability of dung comes to 233 million kg a day that can produce around 12 million cubic meters of biogas a day. Estimates say since 0.4m gas could suffice the cooking needs of a million Pakistanis, the fuel requirement of over 20 percent of them could be met only from biogas. It will also produce 19 million tons of bio-fertilizer per year, which can boost agricultural productivity.

Biogas plants are popular in Pakistan’s neighbourhood and even developed countries. There are almost two million bio-gas plants in India and the facilities have been built even in UK and US through official patronage. Around 89 such plants in the US are consuming 13 per cent or 95000 tons of waste to produce about 2500 mega watt of electricity that suffices for 2.3mn households.

In Nepal, where around 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas with no electricity, over the past 20 years, the biogas sector partnership, an NGO, has installed around 210,000 biogas plants to provide biogas for cooking and lighting. Each plant is estimated to have reduced Nepal’s carbon emissions by around 4.7 tonnes a year.

According to a United Nations report, cattle are responsible for 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming — more than cars, planes, and all other forms of transportation put together. Their environmental impact could be minimised by converting their manure into a renewable source of energy.

The environmental protection agency (EPA) estimates that cattle emit about 5.5 million metric tons of powerful greenhouse gas, methane, per year into the atmosphere. The University of Texas, Austin, estimates that by using around one billion tonnes of manure produced annually in the United States for power/gas generation could also help eliminate 99 million tonnes of net greenhouse gas emissions there.

As per Pakistan Centre for Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) report, a family size biogas plant annually produces energy equivalent to 10056Kg wood, 22200 Kg animal dung, 1104 lit kerosene oil, 540 kg L.P.G or 9000 Kwh of electricity.

From waste to energy
Installation of bio-gas plants can help meet shortage of gas in rural areas
By Tahir Ali

Despite huge potential and benefits, biogas technology has not been given due attention in Pakistan. With inflation, energy shortage aggravating with each passing day, there is a renewed interest in the technology as this type of gas can be used both for cooking and power generation and its residue as fertilizer and it can also decrease domestic fuel budget, deforestation and pressure on national power grid. It can also contribute towards sustenance of ecosystem and conservation of biodiversity in the country.

Over 4000 biogas plants were installed in Pakistan by the government between 1974 and 1987. But later, it withdrew the financial support which reduced the growth rate of this technology. Only 6,000 plants were installed till 2006. But the potential is even bigger.

There are currently around 47 million big animals in Pakistan. A medium size animal produces around 10 kg of dung per day. Even if its 50 percent is collected, the availability of dung comes to 233 million kg a day that can produce around 12 million cubic meters of biogas a day. Estimates say since 0.4m gas could suffice the cooking needs of a million Pakistanis, the fuel requirement of over 20 percent of them could be met only from biogas. It will also produce 19 million tons of bio-fertilizer per year, which can boost agricultural productivity.

Biogas plants are popular in Pakistan’s neighbourhood and even developed countries. There are almost two million bio-gas plants in India and the facilities have been built even in UK and US through official patronage. Around 89 such plants in the US are consuming 13 per cent or 95000 tons of waste to produce about 2500 mega watt of electricity that suffices for 2.3mn households.

In Nepal, where around 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas with no electricity, over the past 20 years, the biogas sector partnership, an NGO, has installed around 210,000 biogas plants to provide biogas for cooking and lighting. Each plant is estimated to have reduced Nepal’s carbon emissions by around 4.7 tonnes a year.

According to a United Nations report, cattle are responsible for 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming — more than cars, planes, and all other forms of transportation put together. Their environmental impact could be minimised by converting their manure into a renewable source of energy.

The environmental protection agency (EPA) estimates that cattle emit about 5.5 million metric tons of powerful greenhouse gas, methane, per year into the atmosphere. The University of Texas, Austin, estimates that by using around one billion tonnes of manure produced annually in the United States for power/gas generation could also help eliminate 99 million tonnes of net greenhouse gas emissions there.

As per Pakistan Centre for Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) report, a family size biogas plant annually produces energy equivalent to 10056Kg wood, 22200 Kg animal dung, 1104 lit kerosene oil, 540 kg L.P.G or 9000 Kwh of electricity.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa too, despite having one million camels, 6mn cattle, 2mn buffaloes and over 12mn sheep and goats, has failed to utilise the waste of these animals for launching of bio gas plants on a big scale.

In the cattle breeding and dairy farm in Charsadda, a bio gas plant has been in operation but the innovative technology has not been disseminated on a mass scale in the province.

Under the project “development and promotion of biogas technology for meeting domestic fuel needs of rural areas and production of bio-fertilizer”, PCRET plans to install 368 biogas plants in rural areas of the country by June this year.  

The government of Italy in November last year decided to provide Rs50 million to set up 436 biogas plants in six districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Abbottabad, Haripur and Mansehra.

Launched in 2008 with a target of 2500 such plants, PCRET has already installed over 2100 family size biogas plants in different parts of the country.

Earlier, based on a feasibility study, a programme implementation plan for domestic biogas of Pakistan was finalised with the support of rural support programmes network, NGOs and farmers’ organisations and is implemented by Pakistan biogas development enterprise. The construction of 30,000 biogas installations in 4 years will be supported in four provinces, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a total investment of Rs2.7bn. Rs244mn would be disbursed as investment rebate support to the households who spend on the technology.

However, the potential is too enormous to be satisfied with this number. Animal waste is usually wasted. In Landhi Karachi alone, around 0.35mn cattle-heads are kept in a 3km area that produce thousands of tons of waste but 80-90 of it is thrown in the sea. A Canadian firm Highmark Renewables with the help of KESC plans to establish world’s biggest biogas plant at a cost of around $70 million that would produce up to 30 mega watt of power and 400 tons of residue bio fertiliser.

 

Some more facts

Any farmer having at least three animals can establish this plant with a one-time investment of Rs40,000 to 50,000

Gas produced in a small bio-digester which contains about 20 kg of dung should be enough to meet the fuel requirement of a small family. Based on these calculations, a bio-digester for any number of animals can be designed. However, the plant must be water/gas-tight. Enough manure and water must be added to it every day.

Firewood, dung and crop residues are major sources of energy for rural and low-income urban households. In 1992, firewood provided fuel to about 60 percent of rural and low income families followed by dung in dry form at around 18pc.

Only 4pc of Pakistan’s total area is covered by forest with only 5pc area protected. To control deforestation, adoption of biogas is the best technology and option in Pakistan.

It seems strange as to why biogas plants have not been installed to reduce the speed and scale of deforestation, especially in the forest-rich Malakand and Hazara divisions. 

Around 70 percent population in KP lives in the rural areas. Most farmers have two or more cattle whose dung mixed with an equal proportion of water can be used to produce biogas. Any farmer having at least three animals can establish this plant with a one-time investment of Rs40,000 to 50,000.

If individual farmers are not ready or cannot afford the expenses, a few families with domestic animals could jointly install such a plant in their neighbourhood. And by selling the gas to families that cannot contribute manure daily for having no animals, the maintenance expenditure, if any, could be financed with this money.

The government needs to give more attention and funds to spread this technology to the countryside. Media should also create awareness among the rural community and NGOs and foreign investors should be encouraged to spread it.

A typical biogas plant consists of a digester where the anaerobic fermentation takes place, a gasholder for collecting the biogas, the input-output units for feeding the influent and storing the effluent respectively, and a gas distribution system.

 

— Tahir Ali

 too, despite having one million camels, 6mn cattle, 2mn buffaloes and over 12mn sheep and goats, has failed to utilise the waste of these animals for launching of bio gas plants on a big scale.

In the cattle breeding and dairy farm in Charsadda, a bio gas plant has been in operation but the innovative technology has not been disseminated on a mass scale in the province.

Under the project “development and promotion of biogas technology for meeting domestic fuel needs of rural areas and production of bio-fertilizer”, PCRET plans to install 368 biogas plants in rural areas of the country by June this year.  

The government of Italy in November last year decided to provide Rs50 million to set up 436 biogas plants in six districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Abbottabad, Haripur and Mansehra.

Launched in 2008 with a target of 2500 such plants, PCRET has already installed over 2100 family size biogas plants in different parts of the country.

Earlier, based on a feasibility study, a programme implementation plan for domestic biogas of Pakistan was finalised with the support of rural support programmes network, NGOs and farmers’ organisations and is implemented by Pakistan biogas development enterprise. The construction of 30,000 biogas installations in 4 years will be supported in four provinces, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a total investment of Rs2.7bn. Rs244mn would be disbursed as investment rebate support to the households who spend on the technology.

However, the potential is too enormous to be satisfied with this number. Animal waste is usually wasted. In Landhi Karachi alone, around 0.35mn cattle-heads are kept in a 3km area that produce thousands of tons of waste but 80-90 of it is thrown in the sea. A Canadian firm Highmark Renewables with the help of KESC plans to establish world’s biggest biogas plant at a cost of around $70 million that would produce up to 30 mega watt of power and 400 tons of residue bio fertiliser.

 

Some more facts

Any farmer having at least three animals can establish this plant with a one-time investment of Rs40,000 to 50,000

Gas produced in a small bio-digester which contains about 20 kg of dung should be enough to meet the fuel requirement of a small family. Based on these calculations, a bio-digester for any number of animals can be designed. However, the plant must be water/gas-tight. Enough manure and water must be added to it every day.

Firewood, dung and crop residues are major sources of energy for rural and low-income urban households. In 1992, firewood provided fuel to about 60 percent of rural and low income families followed by dung in dry form at around 18pc.

Only 4pc of Pakistan’s total area is covered by forest with only 5pc area protected. To control deforestation, adoption of biogas is the best technology and option in Pakistan.

It seems strange as to why biogas plants have not been installed to reduce the speed and scale of deforestation, especially in the forest-rich Malakand and Hazara divisions. 

Around 70 percent population in KP lives in the rural areas. Most farmers have two or more cattle whose dung mixed with an equal proportion of water can be used to produce biogas. Any farmer having at least three animals can establish this plant with a one-time investment of Rs40,000 to 50,000.

If individual farmers are not ready or cannot afford the expenses, a few families with domestic animals could jointly install such a plant in their neighbourhood. And by selling the gas to families that cannot contribute manure daily for having no animals, the maintenance expenditure, if any, could be financed with this money.

The government needs to give more attention and funds to spread this technology to the countryside. Media should also create awareness among the rural community and NGOs and foreign investors should be encouraged to spread it.

A typical biogas plant consists of a digester where the anaerobic fermentation takes place, a gasholder for collecting the biogas, the input-output units for feeding the influent and storing the effluent respectively, and a gas distribution system.

 

— Tahir Ali

sluggish development spending in KP

Constrained development spending

By Tahir Ali

THE Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government eyes financial utilisation between 80-100 per cent of the stipulated annual development spending by the end of the current fiscal year.

According to officials in the provincial planning and development department, an overall 50 per cent utilisation ratio was ascertained by the end of the third quarter with industries, water and energy etc. recording 32 per cent, socio-economic sectors (agriculture, food, R&D etc.) 62 per cent and the social sectors (education and health etc.) 38 per cent by March-end.

An official claimed that the ongoing projects are moving according to schedule, adding that almost the major areas, especially the social and economic sector, have achieved their stipulated targets. “It is envisaged that the utilisation ratio of the
development budget will remain satisfactory by the end of financial year,” claimed Mr Usman Gul, chief economist of the P&DD.

The ADP size for the current year is Rs85 billion including foreign assistance of Rs16bn, up by 23 per cent from the preceding year. There are 1035 projects with 632 ongoing and 403 new. The share of ADP in the KP budget is 35 per cent.

According to the budget documents, budgetary allocations reflect enhanced priority to income-generating sectors of economy (hydropower generation, oil and gas exploration, tourism, mineral development, agriculture and water). The development of potential growth sectors are being complemented with sizeable allocation of resources to social sectors.

“Productive sectors were allocated Rs10.8 billion, socio-economic 21.3 billion and the social sector 36.8 billion from the total ADP size of 69bn excluding foreign assistance of Rs15bn which comes to 84bn for the year,” he added.

But the allocations for the socio-economic sectors like agriculture don’t match with the official assertions. For example, even though the allocation for agriculture and its related sectors has been increased from Rs1.175bn in last fiscal to Rs1.355bn this year, its share has decreased from 1.70 per cent to 1.59 per cent as percentage to the total ADP outlay.

Most ADP projects are intended to boost regional economy, spur economic activities and bring marginalised districts to the mainstream of development.

The provincial government has prepared a 10-year hydropower generation action plan costing Rs330 billion, according to which, 24 projects would be initiated in KP to generate 2100 megawatts of electricity.

“On April 30, Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti inaugurated the Dral Khawar Power Project in Bahrain having a capacity of generating 36.6 megawatts to be completed within three years at a cost of Rs7 billion.

Work on other energy/power projects forming part of the present ADP ( Sharmai hydropower project of 115MW, Matiltan of 84MW, Shushai-Zhendoli 144 MW ) also continues or is shortly to start. All these projects are predominantly foreign funded
with only 10-20 per cent local component,” he said.

Mr Gul said the donor’s interest in KP has increased. Also, the major share in foreign aid in 2011-12 is that of grant (79 per cent).

“Through foreign-aided project ‘Livelihood Development’ the government is trying provide on social safety nets. Livestock,
dairy development, seed quality assurance, water for all, maximisation of food products/production, and mitigation of climate change impact on all the sectors remain focus of this project,” he added.

“Work on the three other special area development schemes for the backward districts of Torghar, Kala Dhak and Kohistan, estimated to cost Rs4bn, Rs1.3bn and Rs0.9bn respectively, is also progressing smoothly. Several other urban development projects such as construction and remodelling of Southern Bypass at Hayatabad and flyover on Rehman Baba and Bacha Khan Chowk in Peshawar, the Bacha Khan Poverty Alleviation Programme are also continuing in full swing,” he said.

To a question whether the ADP utilisation ratio has been historically low due to corruption, terrorism, financial constraints or lack of capacity of the implementing agencies/departments and whether these and other factors had affected the ADP utilisation this year and to what extent, he said the aggregate utilisation ratio of previous ADPs usually remained at 50 per cent at the end of the third quarter but it increased in the last quarter with an aggregate utilisation ratio of 80-100 per cent at the year end.

“Local ADP utilisation remained very good, except for donor funding and federal pledging for its vertical programmes, which sometime causes delay and resultantly ADP utilisation suffers. But we do not anticipate any such issue for the current ADP,” he
added.

However, the economic growth strategy paper prepared by KP says, poor infrastructure, low human resource base and skills levels, high insecurity, unreliable supply of utilities i.e electricity, communication and water and weak public-private collaboration are hampering development and entrepreneurial activity in the industrial and value added sectors of the economy.

According to the cost of conflict report 2009, the total fiscal impact of terrorism amounted to Rs142.2bn. KP’s current expenditure is eating up over 65 per cent of total budget and the salary budget alone has increased from Rs40bn in 2008 to Rs76bn in 2010 mainly for creation of new posts, increase in salaries and intensified rate of retirement.

The strength of government employees has risen from 0.3mn to 0.37mn between 2006-07 and 2011-12, according to official data, squeezing the room for investment in productive and socio-economic sectors.

The provincial ADP, says an official paper, has been skewed towards brick and mortar projects, but deprived soft drivers of
growth in productive and socio-economic sectors.

The ADP spending, experts say, is too thinly spread and the concerned departments try to address as much problems as possible in the limited space and money available to it. As such projects are delayed with cost over-runs.

The government should allocate sufficient money to prioritised schemes to ensure their efficient implementation and timely completion.

The completion of Chakdara Bridge, connecting Dir with rest of the country via Malakand, in record time of four months with the help of Pakistan Army shows that delay in development projects can be minimised provided coordination with relevant development agencies is improved for quick implementation.

Lower than estimated wheat crop in KP

be Lower than estimated wheat crop in KP
By Tahir Ali | From InpaperMagzine | 30th April, 2012

http://dawn.com/2012/04/30/lower-than-estimated-wheat-crop-in-kp/

WHEAT harvest in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa may be lower this year than expected earlier because of inhospitable weather, officials and farmers say.

An official of the Directorate-General of Agriculture Extension in KP said wheat acreage in the province had increased from 724,500 hectares last year to 758,350 hectares this year but the crop has suffered badly in rain-fed areas. The raid-fed areas contributes around 55 per cent of the provincial wheat output. The continued drought mainly in southern districts has diminished the prospects of a bumper crop.

Though wheat crop cultivated on irrigated lands in both the central, southern and northern districts is expected to be healthy, the crop in the fertile but rain-fed lands is feared to have been reduced by about 50-60 per cent for lack of rains during September to January.

“The southern rain-fed districts of Tank, Kohat, Karak, Laki Marwat and Dera Ismail Khan together with Haripur, Dir lower, Buner etc, did not receive any rainfall at the time of sowing. Little moisture in the soil also affected the germination at the start.

Later, occasional showers were received but at the time of flowering and grain-filling stages the weather remained almost dry for a long period. As a result the grain could not develop well and it is either not there or is too small. Hence lower crop yield is expected from the rain-fed areas of the province,” said the official.

“In the irrigated area, the crop is very promising and high yield is expected. However, in the last week of April rains throughout the province and storms in some parts, damaged crops including wheat. In Peshawar the crop was damaged due to hailstorm in Sarband, Achini, Sango Llandai, Nodeha,” he added.

When asked as to whether other factors like use of low quality seeds and less fertiliser have also affected the crop, the official said there was no shortage of such commodities. The department had obtained thousands of tons of quality seeds from registered growers or purchased them from Punjab Seeds’ Corporation and supplied these to the farmers in time.

An official of the agriculture department in Laki Marwat, predominantly a rain-fed district, said though the farmers had cultivated the crop on vast track of land, lack of rain had hit the crop and reduced the output by a big margin.
“Around 60 per cent of wheat crop on over 16,000 hectares in the district has no or small/dry grain. Around nine per cent of the wheat crop on irrigated land is also affected by water shortage. While generally a grain sprouts 10-12 plants when there is plentiful water, this year a grain has sprouted up only one plant in the district for lack of rains in the critical germination period,” he said.

The recent spell of rain is of no use for the crop as it has already matured. The rain instead can harm the crop if followed by winds, he added.

An official of the agriculture department in DIK and a farmer said the abnormal winds following rain in February this year had also damaged the crop to some extent. But the drought had little impact on the crop this year, he added.

A farmer from Mardan said that while the grain was healthy in the canal-fed lands, there were reports of small grains and weak/little stems from the rain-fed areas in the district.

Gushy winds after the recent downpour also damaged the mature crop as it shook and moved its roots. “While the rain reduced mercury that delayed maturity of the grains, the winds levelled down wheat plants in some areas. If rains continue, the fallen grain may fall prey to stem-rot disease for excess of water,” the farmer said.

“Little wheat crop means food shortage and food inflation. I am worried how farmers will pay their agricultural debts, and feed their families when they get low yield, said Ahmad Khan, a farmer.

The land under wheat cultivation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is 1/5th of the 2.75 million hectare total cultivable land in the province. It usually has a share of around four per cent in countrywide wheat yield. It could be increased by bringing the vast fertile land in southern districts lying uncultivated for want of irrigation water.

The low acreage and less yield per acre than the rest of the country leaves the province dependent for over two-thirds of its wheat needs of over three million tons on purchases from Passco and Punjab.

The government apart from bringing more land under cultivation can increase per acre yield by ensuring mechanised farming and providing better seeds.

It should ensure provision of seeds and fertiliser to farmers on subsidised rates. Access of farmers to agricultural loans needs to ensured with the help of banks and NGOs.

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