Pakistan’s wheat farmers saved by forecast chicken masala recipe

It was important information, as farmers in the northeastern districts of pakistan’s potohar region had turned away from wheat – a favoured and high-earning crop – as unpredictable rains over the past decade had led to repeated crop failures.

This year, however, they expect their income to increase as they return to wheat production, after years spent planting some of their land with less lucrative vegetables and tending poultry.

"I would have been, for sure, at a loss and missed the timely wheat plantation, had I ignored the rain forecast … On a local news TV channel," said islam, who farms 4 acres (1.6 hectares) of land in bhata, a village about 50 km from pakistan’s capital.

Winter rains that traditionally fell in mid-november came as late as the end of december in 2016, part of a trend of erratic rains that has confounded farmers who are entirely reliant on rainfall because they lack irrigation systems.Hectares land


But last november the meteorological department correctly forecast rain for early november, giving islam and farmers like him the opportunity to plough their land and be ready to sow.

Islam planted wheat on half his land in the third week of november, leaving the rest for vegetables. By january 17, he says, the wheat plants had grown to a height of 70 cm, whereas in the past eight years they had never grown to more than 10 cm over the same period.

As a result, he and other farmers in the area expect to get at least 1,200 kg of wheat from each acre this year – 30 per cent more than in previous years. Islam reckons this will increase his own income by around 23,000 pakistani rupees ($A457).

Wheat is grown on 22 million acres (9 million hectares) of land in pakistan – nearly the size of jordan – 30 per cent of which is rain-fed. Each year, the country produces 25 million tonnes of the crop.

About 3 million tonnes of this is grown on the potohar plateau, comprising islamabad and the surrounding districts of rawalpindi, chakwal, jhelum and attock.Hectares land the area is characterised by subsistence and smallholding farming.

Farmers usually finish sowing wheat by mid-november, and under normal circumstances two rainy spells in november and december drench the fields, allowing the seeds to germinate.

Wheat acreage there has declined by around 30 per cent compared to 10 to 12 years ago, when rains were abundant and predictable and farmers could reliably harvest at least 1,000 kg of wheat per acre, according to the barani agriculture research institute, a state-run body in chakwal district.

"Lack of resources and access to technical know-how are major hurdles in our way to our adapting to the rapidly shifting weather patterns," said 65-year-old smallholder wheat farmer safeer ahmed, from gujar khan.

In response, some have turned to other sources of income like vegetables which require less water and can be irrigated with water fetched from ponds.

"Many traditional wheat growers are gradually …Least wheat switching over to vegetable, cattle and poultry farming," said hameed bhatti, a statistician at the punjab agriculture department in rawalpindi.

It was important information, as farmers in the northeastern districts of pakistan’s potohar region had turned away from wheat – a favoured and high-earning crop – as unpredictable rains over the past decade had led to repeated crop failures.

This year, however, they expect their income to increase as they return to wheat production, after years spent planting some of their land with less lucrative vegetables and tending poultry.

"I would have been, for sure, at a loss and missed the timely wheat plantation, had I ignored the rain forecast … On a local news TV channel," said islam, who farms 4 acres (1.6 hectares) of land in bhata, a village about 50 km from pakistan’s capital.

Winter rains that traditionally fell in mid-november came as late as the end of december in 2016, part of a trend of erratic rains that has confounded farmers who are entirely reliant on rainfall because they lack irrigation systems.Least wheat

But last november the meteorological department correctly forecast rain for early november, giving islam and farmers like him the opportunity to plough their land and be ready to sow.

Islam planted wheat on half his land in the third week of november, leaving the rest for vegetables. By january 17, he says, the wheat plants had grown to a height of 70 cm, whereas in the past eight years they had never grown to more than 10 cm over the same period.

As a result, he and other farmers in the area expect to get at least 1,200 kg of wheat from each acre this year – 30 per cent more than in previous years. Islam reckons this will increase his own income by around 23,000 pakistani rupees ($A457).

Wheat is grown on 22 million acres (9 million hectares) of land in pakistan – nearly the size of jordan – 30 per cent of which is rain-fed. Each year, the country produces 25 million tonnes of the crop.

About 3 million tonnes of this is grown on the potohar plateau, comprising islamabad and the surrounding districts of rawalpindi, chakwal, jhelum and attock.Their land the area is characterised by subsistence and smallholding farming.

Farmers usually finish sowing wheat by mid-november, and under normal circumstances two rainy spells in november and december drench the fields, allowing the seeds to germinate.

Wheat acreage there has declined by around 30 per cent compared to 10 to 12 years ago, when rains were abundant and predictable and farmers could reliably harvest at least 1,000 kg of wheat per acre, according to the barani agriculture research institute, a state-run body in chakwal district.

"Lack of resources and access to technical know-how are major hurdles in our way to our adapting to the rapidly shifting weather patterns," said 65-year-old smallholder wheat farmer safeer ahmed, from gujar khan.

In response, some have turned to other sources of income like vegetables which require less water and can be irrigated with water fetched from ponds.

"Many traditional wheat growers are gradually …Their land switching over to vegetable, cattle and poultry farming," said hameed bhatti, a statistician at the punjab agriculture department in rawalpindi.