Farmers in Noorpur Thal tehsil, which contributes about 40 per cent of the country’s gram production, are facing a financial crisis due to a prolonged dry season apparently caused by climate change.
The tehsil spread over more than 400,000 acres, has not received rains for the past several months.
Cultivation of gram in dry land has been started, but the production is expected to be very low due to lack of moisture in the soil.
A local farmer, Nazir Alam Khan, said while speaking to The Express Tribune that the crop had been severely affected for the past eight years due to climate changes.
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Lack of rains in the sowing season and heavy rains and hailstorms on the ripe crops have caused the farmers of Thal more losses every year than before, he added.
Cultivation of gram started across the tehsil from October 10, but so far there is no prospect of rains.
Agriculture Department Deputy Director Malik Muhammad Nawaz Chadhar said that gram grown in the tehsil is popular all over Pakistan as it is free of fertilizers and pesticides. Farmers of Noorpur Thal play an important role to meet the demand of gram, meeting about 40% demand across the country.
Local landowner Malik Mujahid Baghur said the farmers of Thal depend on gram for their livelihood.
However, over the last several years, gram production has been steadily declining due to lack of rainfall and various diseases.
He said that the farmers of the area earlier used to meet all their needs from a single crop in a year. However, now they have become indebted to banks.
He said that if similar conditions prevailed, the country would not only be deprived of pure gram but also lose billions of rupees annually.
The farmers demanded waiver of agricultural loans, completion of irrigation projects and a relief package for financial assistance to local growers.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2021.