Chickpea Farming in Pakistan: A Promising Path to Sustainable Agriculture

Pakistan is a significant producer of chickpeas, and a substantial portion of the crop is exported to international markets.

Chickpea, scientifically known as Cicer arietinum, is an essential pulse crop that has been cultivated in Pakistan for centuries. It plays a pivotal role in the country’s agriculture and contributes significantly to its economy and food security. With its diverse uses, adaptability to various climates, and increasing global demand, chickpea farming in Pakistan has gained momentum as an important agricultural enterprise.

In this article, we will explore the significance of chickpea farming in Pakistan, the cultivation process, its challenges, and the potential for sustainable growth.

The Importance of Chickpea Farming

Chickpea holds a unique place in Pakistan’s agricultural landscape for several reasons:

Dietary Staple:

Chickpeas are a vital source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in the Pakistani diet. They are a common ingredient in traditional dishes like chana masala and hummus and are consumed in various forms.

Income Generation:

Chickpea farming serves as a source of income for many small and marginal farmers in Pakistan. The crop provides an opportunity for rural households to improve their livelihoods.

Crop Rotation:

Chickpea is often grown in rotation with other crops like wheat and rice, contributing to soil fertility and reducing pest and disease pressure in subsequent crops.

Drought Resistance:

Chickpeas are relatively drought-tolerant and can thrive in arid and semi-arid regions, making them a resilient option for farmers in Pakistan who face water scarcity challenges.

Cultivation Process

Chickpea farming in Pakistan involves several critical steps:

Land Preparation:

The process begins with land preparation, which includes ploughing and levelling the fields to create a suitable seedbed. Proper land preparation ensures good soil aeration and drainage.

Seed Selection:

High-quality seeds are essential for a successful chickpea crop. Farmers should choose certified seeds from reputable sources to ensure healthy and productive plants.


Chickpeas are typically sown in late October to early November, depending on the region. The seeds are sown at a depth of about 5-7 cm and with a spacing of 15-20 cm between rows.


Adequate and timely irrigation is crucial for chickpea cultivation. The crop requires regular watering, especially during the flowering and pod-filling stages.

Weed Control:

Effective weed management is essential to prevent competition for nutrients and sunlight. Farmers can employ manual or chemical weed control methods.

Pest and Disease Management:

Chickpeas are susceptible to various pests and diseases, such as aphids, pod borers, and wilt. Integrated pest management strategies are crucial to minimising losses.


Chickpeas are typically ready for harvest in March or April, depending on the region. Farmers must carefully time the harvest to ensure an optimal yield.

Challenges in Chickpea Farming

Despite its significance, chickpea farming in Pakistan faces several challenges:

Pest and disease pressure:

Chickpeas are susceptible to various pests and diseases, which can lead to crop losses. Integrated pest management and disease-resistant varieties can mitigate these challenges.

Climate Variability:

Climate change has led to increased weather variability in Pakistan, affecting chickpea production. Unpredictable rainfall patterns and extreme temperatures can impact crop yields.

Lack of High-Yielding Varieties:

While there have been improvements in chickpea breeding, Pakistan still lags in terms of high-yielding chickpea varieties. Developing and promoting such varieties can boost productivity.

Inadequate Extension Services:

Many small-scale farmers lack access to modern agricultural practices and technologies due to limited extension services. Strengthening agricultural extension services is vital for knowledge dissemination.

Market Access:

Farmers often struggle to access markets where they can sell their produce at fair prices. Improved market linkages and value addition can benefit both farmers and consumers.

Sustainable chickpea farming

Sustainability in chickpea farming is crucial for the long-term well-being of both farmers and the environment. Here are some strategies for sustainable chickpea farming in Pakistan:

Crop Rotation:

Implementing crop rotation with other crops like wheat and rice can enhance soil fertility and reduce pest and disease pressure.

Conservation Agriculture:

Adopting conservation agriculture practices, such as minimal tillage, can help improve soil structure and reduce erosion.

Improved Water Management:

Efficient water management techniques, like drip irrigation, can help conserve water resources and reduce water waste.

Use of Organic Farming Practices:

Reducing the reliance on chemical fertilisers and pesticides can enhance the sustainability of chickpea farming.

Promoting climate-resilient varieties:

Breeding and promoting chickpea varieties that are resilient to climate change can help mitigate its adverse effects.

Benefits of chickpeas in Pakistan’s economy

Chickpeas play a crucial role in the Pakistani economy, offering several economic benefits. These benefits encompass various aspects of the agricultural, industrial, and trade sectors. Here are some of the key advantages of chickpea cultivation in Pakistan for its economy:

Export Earnings:

Pakistan is a significant producer of chickpeas, and a substantial portion of the crop is exported to international markets. Chickpea exports generate foreign exchange earnings, contributing to the country’s balance of payments.

Employment Generation:

Chickpea farming provides employment opportunities for rural communities, particularly in regions where the crop is prevalent. This includes jobs in farming, harvesting, processing, and packaging.

Crop Diversification:

Chickpeas are an essential component of crop rotation systems in Pakistan. This diversification helps improve soil fertility, reduces pest and disease pressure, and enhances the sustainability of agriculture in the country.

Rural Livelihoods:

Many small-scale and subsistence farmers rely on chickpea cultivation as a source of income. The income generated from chickpea farming contributes to rural livelihoods and poverty reduction.

Value Addition:

The chickpea industry in Pakistan supports value addition through processing and packaging. This includes the production of chickpea flour (besan) and canned chickpeas, which creates additional revenue streams and employment opportunities.

Support for Agribusiness:

Chickpea farming fosters the growth of the agribusiness sector in Pakistan. This encompasses seed production, machinery manufacturing, pest control services, and food processing industries.

Trade and Global Market Access:

Pakistan’s chickpea exports are not limited to just the neighbouring countries; they reach international markets, including the Middle East, Europe, and North America. This enhances the country’s global trade presence and opportunities.

Food Security:

As an essential source of protein and nutrients, chickpeas contribute to the food security of Pakistan. The crop’s availability and affordability help ensure a stable food supply for the population.

Climate Resilience:

Chickpeas are relatively drought-tolerant and can thrive in arid and semi-arid regions of Pakistan. This adaptability helps mitigate the impact of climate change and water scarcity on agricultural productivity.

Research and Development:

The chickpea sector benefits from research and development activities aimed at improving yield, quality, and resistance to pests and diseases. These advancements contribute to increased productivity and economic growth.

Support for Women in Agriculture:

Women often play a significant role in chickpea cultivation and harvesting in Pakistan. This provides them with opportunities to earn income and contribute to their family’s well-being.


Chickpea farming in Pakistan is not only a source of livelihood for many but also a significant contributor to the nation’s food security. The crop’s adaptability to diverse climates, nutritional value, and economic importance make it a promising choice for sustainable agriculture.

By addressing the challenges and promoting best practices, Pakistan can further harness the potential of chickpea farming, benefiting both farmers and consumers while contributing to sustainable agriculture in the country. Chickpea cultivation in Pakistan offers numerous economic benefits by contributing to export earnings, providing employment, supporting rural livelihoods, and enhancing food security.

The chickpea industry has the potential for further growth and sustainability through continued investment in research, technology adoption, and market expansion.

This article is jointly authored by Dr. Rizwan Maqbool, Muhammad Atif Javed, and Muhammad Zain Shahzad.