Chickpea farmers in dire straits

Middlemen increase financial hardship of growers

Malik Arshad May 06, 2022


Chickpea crop grown on rainfed land in Noorpur Thal has once again failed to yield significant production due lack of timely rains. Local farmers say they are facing financial insecurity because of losses over the past several years.

The crop was sown on 400,000 acres of land, which grew excellently in the early days, leading to expectations of the agriculture department and farmers of record produce this year. But the crops started drying up in late February due to strong winds and lack of timely rains. This resulted in early ripening and a severe reduction in production.

The yield was earlier expected to be about three sacks full of chickpea per acre by local agriculture officers and farmers but when the crop was harvested and threshed, the estimates proved to be wrong and the average yield was only one sack per acre. Even the expenses incurred by the local farmers to produce the crop could not be met and the middlemen increased their financial difficulties.

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Two months ago, the price of local chickpea was Rs17,000 to Rs18,000 per sack but as soon as the new crop came in the markets, the rate dropped to Rs10,000. A local farmer, Muhammad Zafar, told The Express Tribune that only one crop of chickpea is cultivated in a year in the rain-fed area of Thal. He said a large number of farmers were dependent on the crop but climate change had been resulting in a decline in its yield for many years.

“When we buy seeds for sowing, the local middlemen’s mafia sells them for Rs19,000 per 100kg but as soon as the crop is ready, they buy the produce for Rs10,0000, exploiting the farmers,” he said. The amount did not even cover the expenses of the farmers, he complained.

Another farmer, Mohammad Ehsan, said the main reason of sale of the produce at low rates lack of announcement of official prices by the government. He demanded that the government should to fix the price of chickpea like wheat so that the local farmers can be protected from exploitation.


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