Chitral lacks heavy machinery to reclaim arable land

CHITRAL, March 10: More than two-third of cultivable area in Chitral district remains uncultivated for want of the required heavy machinery, according to an expert. yarRiaz Ali, a soil conservationist, told this correspondent that out of the 98,671 hectares area in the district, only 22,552 hectares were cultivable. “The landholding in the district is abysmally low and the situation goes from bad to worse with the growth in population,” he added. He said that the topography of the area was such that it contained plateaus, mountainous and semi-mountainous tracts of land that could be levelled for agricultural purposes as well for construction of houses. Mr Ali said that the 80 per cent of the landholding ranged from merely 0.2 to 1.4 hectares that was quite low for cultivation purpose. “It results in low production of cereals and fruits. The government makes available 30 thousand tonnes of wheat in the warehouses of the food department every year,” he added. The expert said that to bring more land under cultivation meant prosperity and self-sufficiency in food as each household spent thousands of rupees every month on purchase of wheat, the main ingredient of food. “The people have started constructing houses in the plain and fertile lands that can otherwise be used for agricultural purpose in the absence of any facility for levelling the hilly tracts of land,” he said, adding residents of the district didn’t know about the heavy machinery that resolve that problem. Mr Ali said that the agricultural engineering department had only a few sets of obsolete machinery but it lacked construction machinery related to earthwork, mining, construction, quarry and plantation. “During the past fifteen years, no machinery has been added to the inventory of the departments concerned including agricultural engineering and district council,” he said. Mr Ali said that most of the uncultivated land was owned by the state and after development the same could be leased out to local people to generate revenue for the government on one hand and enhanced arable area on the other to alleviate poverty.–Dawn]]>

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