By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Dec 20 - 26, 1999
Muhammad Hussain Panhwar was decorated with Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 1992 by
the President of Pakistan for his outstanding services in the field of agriculture
engineering. He was nominated in "Who is Who In the World" in 1987-88.
Beside various distinctions to his credit, he was elected as
professional member of American Society for Anology and Viticulture in 1993-94. Born in
1925, Panhwar did his B.E from Sindh University in 1949 and his M.Sc in Agriculture
Engineering from Wisconsin USA in 1953.
M.H. Panhwar, a prolific writer on agriculture has
written 13 books on ground water in Sindh and Balochistan. He has also dwelt at length on
the subjects of new fruits, nuts and industrial crops for Sindh and another important
paper on "sustainable methods" in raising fruit crops and over 100 articles in
different newspapers to his credit.
Panhwar who alongwith his wife Farzana Panhwar has devoted much of his
time in research with a view to address the problems pertaining to agriculture growth
specially within the climatic conditions prevailing in the Province of Sindh.
PAGE: Would you like to highlight the practical
applications of your research work for growth of agriculture sector in Pakistan.
PANHWAR: Since fruit farming is commercially much more
viable as compared to wheat, cotton or rice and other crops, currently all his lands have
been utilized into fruit farms.
PAGE: What type of fruits you are producing at your
PANHWAR: With a smile of confidence on his wrinkled
face, Panhwar said that he has introduced new fruits and nuts in Sindh since 1980 by
utilizing mostly non-synthetic fertilizer and pesticides which not only help healthy
growth of plants but also enriches the soil.
It was really a pleasant surprise to see Cashew plants in full bloom at
the farms. So far Cashew was grown by our neighbouring India, African countries and
Australia. Cashew is generally smuggled into Pakistan and sold at Rs750 per kg at the
retail stage. Panhwar has brought cashew plants from Australia and expects that the plants
are in good health and would soon start commercial production.
Lychee: Another delicious and refreshing fruit which was so far
cultivated in the province of Punjab. Panhwar has introduced five varieties of lychees
from Australia and USA which are more rich in colour and taste. They are grown
commercially and available in the market during the season.
PAGE: What about other fruits grown in your farms.
PANHWAR: There are plants of as much as 25 fruits and
nuts . They have been brought into Pakistan from different origins such as Jojoba oil nut
and Jatropha nut from Mexico, Buffalo-Gourd from Texas, Mango from USA, Brazil and
Australias, Peaches, Plums, Thaahiti Lime, Graphe fruit, apple and Nectarines from
Florida, Grapes, persimmon, Z. jujube, pear and Fig from California and Pomegranate from
Spain and USA.
PAGE: What are the economic potentials of fruit
farming in Pakistan.
PANHWAR: "Our personal experience shows that
highly organised fruit and vegetable farmers with diversified crops and the latest
technologies can increase the yields of existing crops by 3 to 5 times. This is possible
only when inputs are increased and there is on the average one farm worker busy year
around on each acre of land. Similarly the vegetable crops can absorb three times as many
persons as area under the crop. There is also scope for floriculture, herbs and essential
oils. There is unsaturated market for fresh and dried flowers. This has not been explored
in Pakistan. Income from flowers per acre will far exceed fruits of all kinds and
employment rate may also be 3-4 persons per acre. Laterly a huge market has developed for
herbs. Thus changing cropping patterns, introducing new crops, adopting fruit culture,
vegetable, floriculture, herbs and industrial crops will help to increase rural income and
PAGE: Why Pakistan has to import wheat every year
despite having enormously rich land resources?
PANHWAR: It is unfortunate that right from the
beginning, it has not been given its due place in the national economy. The manufacturing
sector has been remained on top of the government priorities. For example the prices of
wheat and other agricultural commodities were kept low from the First Five Year Plan so
that commerce and industry get cheap labour to establish their enterprises.
The price policy from 1950 to 1995 has given the farmers 40 to 50 per
cent less than international prices.
Under the present Suport Price Policy there can not be any transition
from subsistence farming into commercial farming, as the cost of the additional inputs
will not be compensated by the additional returns from additional yields.
The net result of all this is the wheat production is lowered, wheat is
imported at about double the rate as paid to the farmers and subsidised to the urban
population. This makes industrial labour available at cheap rates and enhances profits of
industry but suppresses the rural and urban labour as well as the total agricultural