The Pothohar plateau covers about 7% of all the cultivated land of Pakistan and most of it is very fertile. But this region do not have any proper irrigational system except rain water. Inappropriate construction, maintenance and management of dams is amongst one of the major problems encountered by Pothohar region in the agricultural scenario. Despite its huge potential the Pothohar region has always been sidelined at agricultural fronts.
Nestled in between the gigantic Salt range and the Hazara hills, Pothohar region is a land of unparalleled charm and glory. A huge portion of population in this region is directly or indirectly related to agriculture and depend on it to earn their living.
Despite its huge importance for this piece of land, agriculture has yet not received enough attention from the prime leaders at any stage of time. There are a number of problems that hinder the progress in agriculture sector.
First and the foremost comes the problem of irrigation. Almost all of the land in this region is Barani and dependent upon rainwater for irrigation. From a total of 1.8 million hectares of land only 0.7 million hectares is cultivable. And even out of this only 4% is irrigated while all the remaining land is rainwater-dependent. Multiple dams and other water storage structures have been built time to time but almost one of the has proved to be fruitful. Hindrances have occurred at the primary stages just after the land has been acquired, say the locals. Even in those cases where work was started and to some extent completed, it was not up to the mark.
Secondly the general level of farming of agriculture is very low as compared to the rest of Pakistan and subsequently to the world. Farmers are generally illiterate and do not have even the basic knowledge of modern techniques that are required to cope up with the modern day requirements. They cannot work to control the agricultural diseases, moreover they’re not confident enough to use modern methods of agriculture. Another reason of substandard agriculture is poverty of farmers they do not have enough resources to buy expensive modern machinery, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides..
Thirdly the laws of inheritance which are generally in practice keep on dividing the land into smaller and smaller pieces and eventually it becomes impossible for a farmer to buy machinery such as tractors and ploughs for such a small piece of land and that too when they are expecting a very meager output.
Even with the farmers who produce a good yield there lies the problem of communication gap. Road networks and railway networks are not in a status as to encourage or help farmers transport their processed goods.
Another big problem in this same regard is that there’s a large number of members in producer-consumer chain. These 3rd party members gain a huge profit margin consequently leaving a very small profit for farmers which is again not very encouraging for the farmers and they do not feel a need to work to such an extent which is possible.
This uncertain situation neither creates incentive for hard work not attracts capital investments. Solutions to all of the aforementioned problems are possible. Though time taking and effort demanding, revolutionary changes can be brought in agriculture of Pothohar region.
1st and foremost, the issue of water resources need to be addressed there’s a dire need of building of new dams in the area of which can store water so as to provide water exactly when a plant or crop requires. There’s a need to not only construct but also check the quality and standard of water storage structures, which can provide benefit to the people. Water needs to be used wisely, when we know that there’s a shortage of water then the traditional floor irrigation method should not be used instead there should be new methods of irrigation introduced such as drip farming, sprinkle farming tunnel farming etc. So that a maximum output is obtained through a minimal use of water supplies, Farmers should be given basic knowledge of modern day techniques and equipment, they should be able to use new and improved types of machinery, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides.
There should be a more scientifically directed research oriented work in this field. A number of institutions are required in this regard. Barani Agriculture Institute Chakwal is a very good institute playing its part in this regard but there’s a need of number of more institutes. Recently it has been found out that the Pothohar region especially Chakwal and its surroundings are very suitable for olive farming.