Kashmiri Farmers Lost Crops, Irrigated Land, and Livestock after 2005 Tremor
In Pakistani-administered Kashmir, 80 percent of crops and 50 percent of arable land were lost or destroyed by the October 2005 earthquake, while more than 100,000 head of cattle died. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the 30,000 square kilometer quake zone is among the country’s poorest regions. About 43 percent of the population of Pakistani-administered Kashmir and 34 percent in the Northwest Frontier Province live below the poverty line. The areas belong to a dry zone where farming is based on a mixture of crops, livestock and forestry activities. Farmers cope with small and fragmented land holdings, harsh climatic conditions, low quality seeds, limited fertilizer use, and poor pest and disease control, according to FAO. In the quake zone, many farmers feel neglected by the government and are unsure how they will recover. FAO is working to re-establish livestock numbers and rehabilitate small scale irrigation systems but much greater efforts will be needed. Livestock numbers continue to dwindle. Many families have no choice but to abandon animals or making distress sales due to poverty or a lack of fodder, housing, and labor.