Thursday, January 12, 2012

Agriculture in Pakistan

The time period from late November to late March in the farmlands of Pakistan is quite exhausting and fruitful at the same time. Being a son of one the most fertile lands of this beautiful country, I know and have experienced how anxious and enthusiastic are at this point and time of the year. In other words, this scenario could be similar to the National Geographic’s ‘The Deadliest Catch’. It’s just that it is being done on land rather than the sea.

Sugar cane is a crop which is cultivated and taken care off throughout the year with utmost precision. It gets ready to be shipped to the sugar mill after one year. This crop takes lots of effort, money and man-hours to be spend in the sugar cane fields to get this crop ready in making of sugar.

So after one year when this crop is finally ready to be shipped over the sugar mills, the ultimate objective of the farmer is to not delay the crop anymore. Sending the crop to sugar mill is an expanded exercise. A labor consisting of men and women is gathered. The cost of labor is ascertained beforehand. The crop is cut and shifted on the huge trolleys. And they are sent off the sugar mills.

These fertile farmlands of Pakistan are, without any doubt, have the highest amount of lease in the country. Normally, a lease per acre is ranging from 25,000-40,000 rupees in the rest of the country. However, our lands are being leased from 75,000-to over 100,000 rupees. Sometimes, it is quite hard to believe even for farmers from other areas of the country. Plus there is no shortage of water in this area. We are located around one of the best canal system in Asia, if not the world. Having plenty of water for agriculture, we can quite easily get three to four crops per acre, if the farmers want. Only sugar cane is an annual crop. Other crops, like cotton, wheat, maize etc last three to four months each year. 

However, due to high cost of farming in Pakistan, these farmers are trying to reduce the overheads in this business. The costs of fertilizers, diesel, electricity, and labor have increased several times. Even though the selling prices of crops and total yields have also gone up in the recent years, still, the overheads are far higher than the total produce sold. Calamities like last year’s flooding in Pakistan have also to be put in the picture to keep the perspective of agriculture in this country. Flooding, crop diseases, shortages of certain crops at the prime of their usage like wheat in the winter and sugar in the summer, load shedding, availability of diesel and other fuels needed for agriculture, the availability of the fertilizers at the time they are needed, and the water shortages in winters should also be kept in mind as weaknesses and threats in this business.   

70 percent of the Pakistan’s population lives in the rural areas. Agriculture is still the biggest industry and providing food and shelter to most families in the country. In my view, it is a very respectable way of making a living in this country.

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