Friday, 26 June 2015


Most people in North Pakistan are peasant farmers. The average household has eight members sharing half a hectare of land. As most Northern Pakistan is mountain desert, with 20-200 millimeters of rain fall a year depending on the area, agriculture is possible only by irrigation.  Channels are dug from kilometers long feed the water from mountains, streams flowing from the glaciers to any patch of flat land. Water cannot be taken from main rivers, as in summer, swelled by melting snow, they rise many meters and become raging torrent that would submerge and tear away any delicate canal head works.
     Shortage of water is the constant problem in some parts of most villages of Northern Pakistan and the channels are patrolled 24 hours a day to maintain the flow, regulate the complicate system of water and guard against water theft. There is always a man striding along channel for opening or closing the sluice gates and repairing the bank. The channels also supply the water used in most village households, so be careful not to change or pollute them even by washing your hands in them.
  The crops grow vary from valley to valley and village to village depending on altitude and local customs and preference. In some areas in the low altitude people rotate their crops as Hunza, farmers usually rotate their crops, planting winter wheat in November, harvesting it in July and immediately planting maize, which harvest in mid-October. Higher fields may be under maize which with barley from late May to August.
   In lower Chitral a first crop barley is usually followed by rice. This is culture preference and perhaps shows difference in background, as Aryans traditionally eat wheat rather than rice.
  Potatoes were introduced to the mountain areas by the British late in the eighteenth century. They are sown in April and harvested in October. The usual vegetables are peas, broad beans, haricot beans, lentils, onions, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, courgettes, turnips and okra are grown in the northern Areas of Pakistan.
  Throughout the mountains fruit is an important part of the local diet. Most important of all is apricot. In northern there are varieties of apricots, which make unforgettable display when they blossom at the beginning of April. No part of the apricot is wasted: beside eating fruit the people use the shell for fuel, pound the nut for oil and use the pulp as animals feed. As some species grow at 3000meters even in the higher villages.
   Other popular fruit trees are apple, cherry, pear, plum and peach with all the families owing 5-10 trees of each variety.
   Live stock is also at great in the northern Areas of Pakistan. The usual domestic animals are goats, sheep, yaks, cattle and yak cow crosses which are called dzos. Yaks are used to pack animals which the cattle and crosses are used for milk, meat and pulling plough.

  The distribution of the animals varies in the different villages and valleys. Each family owns 20-30 goats and sheep and 3-5 yaks and cows or dzos. 


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