Noorpur Thal is the second largest tehsil in Pakistan in chickpea cultivation, but the farmers are facing a decline in production because of unseasonal rains and diseases.
The production in the tehsil includes 75% black and 25% white chickpeas.
Consumption of black chickpea helps overcome calcium deficiency in the body. After eating the legume, a person feels stronger. People are also advised to eat black chickpea to control diabetis. The crop is cultivated on about 400,000 acres of land dependent on rainfall in Noorpur Thal tehsil. Rainfall is vital for the production of chickpea. From cultivation till the harvesting no pesticide is sprayed and no fertiliser is used.
The best season to sow chickpeas begins in October and is completed in a month. Later, the farmers wait for rains so that the crops grow.
If it rains on time after the sowing, the average yield is two to three 100kg sacks of chickpeas per acre. However, if there is no rain, the output drops to less than half because the fields are not irrigated and are dependent on rainfall for water needs. This production does not even cover the expenses of the farmer.
Nazir Alam Khan Pathan, a landowner in Noorpur Thal, told The Express Tribune that the average production of chickpea had been declining significantly for the last six years due to unseasonal rains and various diseases. “Because of the climate changes and growing diseases in crops, the farmers are suffering financially.”
Another landowner, Mohammad Shafiq Waghra, complained that when it was time to sow gram, the local middleman sold the seed to the farmers at Rs15,000 per sack, but when the crops were ready, it was bought for Rs6,000 to Rs7,000 per sack.
He suggested that the government should discourage the middlemen mafia by fixing the official rate of gram like wheat.
Agriculture Department Deputy Director Dr Muhammad Sabtain said, “Around 500,000 sacks of gram are produced annually in Noorpur Thal, which contains natural nutrients.”
He further said that due to the current situation and lower priced, the farmers preferred to grow other crops on their lands and the country might be deprived of local production .
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2020.
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