is mono cropped area and maize is the only staple crop of the
valley. Although the yield of the maize crop is double than
previously due to the introduction of improved crop varities
of maize by the project, still the produce sufficient only for
six months subsistence of the community while for the rest of
the year the food stuff is purchased from down districts.
It was the fortunate day of 26th October, 2001 in the history
of Palas that wheat was sown for the first time successfully
after intervals of several decades. It is said that a wild type
of wheat variety, black in colour called buck wheat was grown
in the area since immemorial times. But cultivation was abandoned
several decades ago, because the quality of this wheat was low
and high quality wheat flour was available in the market on
cheaper rate at that time.
Wheat Plot at Haran Palas Valley
Thus the Palas Valley was subjected to monoculture and till
now maize is the only staple crop in the area. The monoculture
cropping tendency resulted free grazing of cattle in fellow
cropping period. It was but very difficult for the community
to come forward and start wheat sowing again, as free grazing
of cattle roots very deep in the society. But it was the PCDP
initiative and started the intervention of double cropping.
For this purpose training was arranged for the community members
of Palas Valley to build their capacity in wheat cultivation.
A resource person was brought from Agriculture Research Station
Mingora, Swat and 10 persons were trained in wheat cultivation.
After gaining necessary know how 10 wheat plots were established
in the valley with these farmers. Inputs like quality seeds
and fertilizers were provided by the project and staff from
ALR Sector visited these plots for guidance off and on. Crop
was harvested in May-June 2002, the crops were dried, threshed
and the yields were measured. This happy day was like an Eid
day for all the wheat growers. Members of their families were
very happy because in the coming days they would have wheat
bread instead of maize bread.
Gul Bad Shah of Shalkan Abad said that they are also happy,
because of availability of wheat straw (Bhosa) for their cattle
for the coming winter, as they face great hardship regarding
animal feed in winter. Previously, they were growing maize,
which was sufficient only for six months. But now they will
be self sufficient in staple food for at least 10 months.
Seeing is believing: 12 other farmers in the area have also
sown wheat without the inputs of the project as an immediate
impact. The area has virgin soil and it has great potential
for wheat cultivation, the wheat production in Palas is anticipated
to reach up to 200 tons within next 5-10 years.
Wheat is a good source of protein and can fight the problem
of malnutrition and dietary deficiency. It is hoped that next
year the mid hill area starting from Bada Kot up to Serghaziabad
in Kuz Palas and Paro Kalyar and Gaddar in Bar Palas will
be covered with wheat crop. In terms of money the income of
the farmers is doubled, because of wheat crop the average
yield obtained from one Acre of land exceeds 2000 Kg. However,
if we take even 1600 Kg, it is worth Rs. 12800 per acre of
extra income. The value of wheat straw (Rs. 1100/ acre) added
the net income from a wheat crop comes to Rs. 16800/- compared
to the Rs.9600/- from maize cultivation.
Fazal Ahad, Program Officer ALR