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February 9, 2019

Gram output expected at 500,000 tons this year


February 9, 2019

LAHORE: Production of gram, known as desi chickpea, is expected at 400,000 to 500,000 tons this year following sufficient rains despite relatively low area under cultivation, experts said on Friday.

There are reports of three rains since December last year, which is considered good omen for thriving of the plants of arid area although one or two showers were sporadic and not widespread.

Experts said the rain volume is still considered sufficient and likely to help harvest of 400,000 to 500,000 tons of desi chickpea compared with 300,000 tons last year despite the fact that acreage this year has been shrunk by around 20 percent.

“The reason for low area under gram plantation was restriction imposed on cultivating crop on the government land,” Secretary Danial Ahmed of Pulses Importers and Exporters Association of Punjab said.

On standing desi chickpea crop, Ahmed said there were rains in the gram sown area of the province in December, January and during the current week in February.

The amount of rainfall is fairly good for desi chickpea plant. Last year, hardly a rain spell was recorded in the rain-fed area. Last year, around 300,000 tons of the crop was produced despite scarce soil moisture.

Drought condition was mostly witnessed in 2012 over the last decade when no considerable amount of rain was observed in the gram crop area in the Punjab, reducing production to merely 180,000 tons.

The price outlook of gram crop is good as far as consumers are concerned. Duty and taxes imposed by India, the world’s biggest consumer of pulses, led to global glut. Therefore, pulses market is broadly depressed. Ahmed said consumption of desi chickpea in the country in the current year stood at 555,000 tons.

“We are hoping that 0.4 to 0.5 million tons production with carryover stock would be sufficient to meet local demand,” he added. “So no sizeable imports are being anticipated at this point of time especially if compared with the trend of last year.”

In the preceding year, he recalled, nearly 8,000 containers of desi chickpeas were imported since March 2018, containing 180,000 tons of desi chickpeas.

Desi chickpea is known as one of the oldest pulses and cultivated from ancient times. It is most commonly used pulse and any variation in its demand and supply affects the whole pulses market. Chickpea has importance due to its nutritional values of seeds as it contains high protein content.

Chickpea seeds are eaten fresh, roasted, boiled and fried as snack food. Chickpea pulse, also known as dal chana, is widely consumed while gram seeds are ground and the flour (besin) has many uses.

There are two types of chickpea. The first relatively small brown seed is called desi and with large whitish seed called Kabuli.

Desi chickpea is cultivated mainly in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. It is cultivated in Khushab, Thal desert, Cholistan and Bahawalpur regions in the Punjab, while it is sown in winter season in the rice tract in Sindh.

Chickpeas are used both for human consumption and animal feed in rural and urban areas. The considerable production of desi chickpea in Thal desert and other arid and semi-arid zones is characterized as part of subsistence farming. However, the gram crop has lately been evolved as cash crop for many growers keeping in view increasing trend in its consumption.

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