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April 14, 2021

Gram crop shrinks to one-third on insufficient rains

Business

 
April 14, 2021

LAHORE: With negligible rains, gram crop has shrunk to about one-third of a typical size, prompting imports of the mostly consumed legume, traders said on Tuesday.

Pulse trader Danial Ahmed said average per acre yield of gram – also called desi chana or chickpea – has been badly affected due to no rain for five months. As crop largely failed, farmers opted 30 days early harvest than the normal practice.

Ahmed termed this year’s crop as one of the lowest in history. However, due to early harvest, prices are down 15-20 percent ahead of Ramazan.

Ahmed estimated local production of gram at 150,000 to 160,000 tons. To bridge shortfall in national production, he said import cargoes has been booked as per requirements mainly from Australia. More than 6,000 containers might be booked so far, he said.

Ahmed cautioned that gram prices could escalate in months to come as its rates are increasing in the international market.

The good thing has been early harvesting of gram crop well before onset of Ramazan when Besan or gram flour, one of the byproducts of gram, is largely used for making pakoras and other dishes. Hence, the prices are virtually not showing upward trend in the domestic market before month of Ramazan despite major loss of standing crop.

Gram is the largest rabi pulse crop, accounting for 76 percent of the total production in the country. Gram pulse also made out of whole gram and is widely consumed by the masses. Any jump in its price or disruption in supplies could drive upward trend in the pulses market as a whole, said traders.

During rabi 2020/21, out of 1.6 million acres of gram crop sown in the province, having 84 percent share in total production, 1.2 million acres non-irrigated plantation got hit by the unprecedented drought conditions during almost whole season.

The gram grown in arid zone of six districts of north-west, including Bhakkar, Layyah, Jhang, Mianwali, Sarghodha and Khushab, has not even been good for animal feed.

According to latest official figures, total estimated gram production for 2020/21 is just about 263,000 tons, showing a decrease of 51.6 percent over the last year produce of about 500,000 tons. Obviously, the biggest loss of crop was reported in the province. The volume of gram has been reduced to just 188,000 tons in the province, 56 percent less than the previous crop and 59 percent below the official target.

Chana is one of the major pulses cultivated and consumed in the country. Owing to stagnant national output for last several years, Pakistan is losing its share among international farming nations, contributing about five percent in the total output of gram in the world. —Munawar Hasan