MULTAN: The use of low-quality seed is a major cause of the decline in the production of pulses in the country. An amount of Rs102 billion is being spent annually to import the commodity.
Besides, selection of marginal soil (less fertile-deserts), lack of mechanisation, water shortage, and poor marketing system are also some important factors, damaging pulse sector, said Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) Bhakkar Director Dr Khalid Hussain.
Talking to APP on Sunday, he said pulses are grown at an area of 3.2 million hectares in the country, but the major area is less fertile. The country faced a shortage of 275,000 tons of chickpea, 66,000 tons of moung bean, 166,000 tons of mash and 160,000 tons of lentil pulse annually.
Pakistan used to import these pulses, mainly from Australia and Canada, Dr Hussain. About per acre production of pulses in the country, the expert said that Pakistan was achieving 200 kilogramme per acre while Australia was getting 1400 per kilogramme. About the reason behind extremely low production, Dr Hussain said that the country was facing the issue of low seed quality. The funding on research on pulses was meager, he said. He hinted that Pakistan was spending a huge amount of Rs102 billion on the import of pulses annually.
Replying to a question, he said that how can Pakistan promote pulses, he recommended, they have to work on the availability of quality seed, selection of fertile land and improvement in marketing system to invite farmers attention towards the production of pulses.
About marketing, another expert on pulses Dr Ammar from the Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture observed that they should delay pulses imports and wait for the arrival of indigenous pulses because it would offer handsome price to our farmers.
"We would be focusing on protein-rich pulses", he remarked. When asked about pulses consumption in the country, he said that the consumption of pulses is on the rise. The growing population is an important factor behind the increase in consumption of pulses.
To a query how they can improve pulses production, Dr. Ammar suggested that pulse crop zones should be fixed. Similarly, quality seeds, agricultural mechanisation, and provision of the sprinkle system especially in the Thal area could help to get bumper production and save huge amounts, being spent on import of cotton.