Sources claimed that since 2009 the government had totally ignored the development and enhancement of local production of pulses, which now was forcing the country to spend around Rs 50 billion on the import of pulses. Gram, the largest Rabi pulse crop in Pakistan, accounts for 76 percent of the total production of pulses in the country, and occupies about 5 percent of the cropped area. Current production of gram stands at 0.4 million tons against 0.57 million tons of 2011-12, showing a significant decrease of 0.17 million tons, which is due to reduction in cultivated area. The domestic consumption of gram is about 0.60 million tons annually.
“The prices of gram pulse and basin (which is by-product) are currently beyond the financial means of large segment of the population as they are available in the retail market at Rs 125 and Rs 120 per kg respectively and in view of the current trend, the prices of gram pulse and basin are likely to further rise to Rs 130 per kg and Rs 140 per kg in the next few months,” claimed a leading wholesaler.
The production of pulses has remained stagnant for several years in a row and total output of all the four major varieties ie moong, masoor, mash and gram remain range-bound between 500,000 and 700,000 tons. Since most pulses are grown in Barani areas where agriculture depends on rainwater, farmers keep reducing the area under cultivation to make way for other major crops like wheat, rice and sugarcane.
Farmers have also dedicated their farms for wheat, sugarcane and cotton cultivation as they are getting higher returns on the cultivation of these crops. Punjab accounts for more than 81.6 percent of overall production, Sindh contributes about 9.6 percent, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa contributes only 3.3 percent in gram production and the contribution of Balochistan is about 5.5 percent.
In 2006-07 Pakistan’s total gram production was 0.837 million tons, which in 2009-10 declined by 32 percent to 0.571 million tons. In 2006-07 Pakistan’s Mung pulse production was 138,500 tons, which in 2009-10 reduced to 118,000 tons showing a 15 percent decline. In 2006-07 Mash production was 15,900 tons, which in 2011-12 reduced to 10,700 tons.
According to official data, in 2006-07 Pakistan produced 21,100 tons of Masur pulse, in 2007-08 around 14,600 tons showing a decline of 33 percent. In 2008-09 about 14,400 tons were produced and in 2009-10 production further decreased to 11,700 tons. During the last four years Mash pulse production has reduced from 15,900 tons to 10,700 tons, Mung production from 13,800 tons to 11,800 tons and Gram from 837,000 tons to 571,000 tons. Mung is a Kharif pulse and the domestic requirements are about 106,000 tons with Punjab contributing about 86.7 percent to total production.
Punjab contributes 49.3 percent to country’s Masur production, Sindh contributes 20.5 percent in its production, contribution of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa is 19.2 percent and the share of Balochistan is 11 percent. The domestic requirements of Masur are more than 50,000 tons and its current local production is 11,700 tons, which reflects a shortfall that would compel the government to import about 38,000 tons of Masur pulse. Mash is one of the important Kharif pulses and is grown in all the four provinces. The provinces share in mash production over time showed that Punjab is the major contributor (66.2 percent), Sindh’s share is 1.3 percent, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa contributes 7 percent in mash production and Balochistan contributes 25.5 percent share in production.
The domestic requirement/consumption of Mash is about 45,000 tons, while local production is 10,700 tons, a shortfall that would have to be met through import of 34,000 tons. The production of Mash during the last few years shows that it is substantially lower than domestic demand. The seasonality index of prices of mash shows that prices start falling from November till May and thereafter start rising gradually and reach peak in June-July. The Punjab province contributes about 86.7 percent to total production, Sindh province shares 3.1 percent in mung production, share of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa is 4.9 percent and Balochistan contributes only 5.3 percent. The domestic requirement of mung is about 106,000 tons, while its local production is 190,000 tons against 118,000 tons in 2011-12.
Ibrahim Mughal, Chairman Agri Forum Pakistan said that ignorance on the part of the government, non-availability of latest verities of seeds and poor marketing had forced the farmers to shift to other crops. He said that the growers of pulses did not get appropriate prices for their crops and now they were utilising their lands for cultivation of other crops.