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March 6, 2021

Isabgol farmers rejoice over high yield, better price

Business

March 6, 2021

HYDERABAD: Isabgol (Psyllium husk) yield has risen this season in parts of Tharparkar and Umerkot districts, and farmers are receiving reasonable rates for the produce that is pouring into the local markets of Kunri and Naukot.

Commodity markets of Kunri and Naukot attract urban traders, who buy the isabgol in bulk.

For now, the price ranges between Rs9,000 and Rs12,000 per maund, which according to local farmers was better than last year.

n 2020, the price range was Rs6,000 to Rs8,000 per maund.

Ghulam Hussain, a small scale farmer in Kaloi neighborhood, Tharparkar district, said, “I have sold the product at Rs9,300/maund quite recently. Last year the price was Rs7,000/maund.”

He called it a good omen for the crop that was cultivated in parts of Umerkot and Tharparkar districts in October and November 2020.

The area had experienced devastating rain floods in September, which hit standing crops mainly chilli, cotton and vegetables, causing colossal loss to farmers. Hussain’s family cultivated isabgol on 10 acres, from which he expects to receive 10-12 maund/acre.

“We could not wait much, so as soon as the floodwaters receded, we cultivated isabgol,” he said.

This crop does not need a lot of water and chemical input. “Mostly, it grows on moisture,” he added.

The market is receiving the harvest from the early crop planted in the flooded areas. Those who sowed the crop in December have to wait a few more days for harvest.

Isabgol is being produced in the southern parts of Sindh, in districts Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Badin, Tharparkar and Umerkot.

Many farmers have been setting a portion of their cultivable land aside for isabgol for generations. And despite ups and downs, they continue to follow this tradition.

Specific data on total isabgol cultivation is not available, but reports show that almost all small scale farmers sow this crop as a priority on around 25 percent of their land. If some families possess 16 acres of land, they use at least four acres for producing isabgol. Even when yield is low, these farmers do not give up on their tradition.

Some reports show that farmers in canal areas, especially in Tando Allahyar district have cultivated isabgol on an experimental basis for getting husk.

This year isabgol producers seem happy for fetching an attractive price at the main Kunri and Naukot markets. These markets have been centres of agricultural commodity trade for decades.

Isabgol is an important herb crop, which people the world over use for maintaining health. Elderly farmers believe that it was among a few traditional crops, which did not require more water and chemical input.

Thus, they prefer to spare a piece of land to cultivate it for keeping their tradition alive. Each farmer can earn at least Rs100,000 per acre, depending on the situation in terms of soil fertility, weather and water phenomenon.

In traditional natural medicine, isabgol husk is considered a dietary fibre that has been used as a natural laxative for millennia. It is also applied to the skin, along with aloe vera gel, to manage acne and pimples due to its anti-inflammatory property.