Agriculture may need 2 yrs for flood recovery

Agriculture industry, a pillar of the economy, could take up to two years to start recovering from devastating summer floods, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Monday.

The ADB and the World Bank are assessing the damage caused by one of Pakistan’s worst natural disasters, which destroyed 1.3 million hectares of crops just before the harvest of key products such as rice, maize and sugarcane.

“Once the country gets back on its feet, it will be able to meet part of those agricultural import needs that will happen over the next two years,” said Philip Erquiaga, director general of ADB’s private sector operations.

“We are thinking within that time horizon we should be able to see the agriculture sector coming back,” he said.

Agriculture is Pakistan’s second largest sector, accounting for over 21 percent of gross domestic product. Nearly 62 percent of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods.

The ADB said earlier it could provide Pakistan with around $1.5-$2 billion of trade finance to help with recovery and reconstruction after the floods, some $500 million more than it earmarked originally.

The ADB expects half of that increase to be used for basic commodities, including food and medicine, said Erquiaga.

“The balance of that we will probably see coming in the form of capital goods imports related to reconstruction,” he said.