Sindh produces a variety of field and horticulture crops; rice and cotton are but two of the leading crops.
It is said that Sindh is a gift of the Indus for without the Indus, Sindh would have been a barren wasteland. But the mighty Indus created a land that was arable, fertile and also coveted. The rich, productive soil of the alluvial plains, lying on either side of the Indus, was accentuated when contrasted with the barren hills to the west and the sands of the Thar Desert to the East. Thus, this area not only attracted settlers and migrants in times of drought, but also numerous invaders. The course of the Indus River never stays the same and over thousands of years it has gradually shifted. Additionally, the Indus Delta has been continuously growing, thereby increasing the cultivable land. Currently, 40% of the land in Sindh is arable and 5% is rangeland. The total cultivated area of Sindh is 5.88 million hectares and the total cropped area is 3.10 million hectares.
There are two seasons of cultivation. Kharif, or summer crops, are planted in June and harvested in October. Rabi, or winter crops, are planted in October and harvested in March.
Sindh produces a variety of field and horticultural crops. Major field crops are wheat, rice, sugarcane, and cotton; approximately 68% of the total cropped area is used for their production. Of the total output in Pakistan, Sindh produces 35% of the rice, 28% of sugarcane, 12% of wheat, and 20% of the cotton. Major horticulture crops are mangoes, bananas and chilies. Of the total output, Sindh produces 88% of chilies, 73% of bananas, and 34% of the mangoes. Sindh also has cultivable land under usage for fodder, pulses, condiments, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables.
Rice is the leading kharif crop. Rice production offers an important source of employment and income in rural areas. In Sindh the IRRI type long grain heat tolerant tropical rice is grown. Rice is grown mostly on the west bank of the Indus. Extreme weather in the summers is perfectly suited to this type of rice.
Cotton is the leading cash crop of Sindh. In fact, cotton cultivation in Sindh dates as far back as 5,000 years ago to the Indus Valley Civilization. At Mohenjo-daro the world’s oldest cotton cloth was discovered which lends evidence to the suggestion that Sindh is the birthplace of cotton. Additionally, Sindhu was the word used by Babylonians for cotton and Sindon by the early Greeks. Today, Pakistan is the fourth largest producer of cotton. Cotton adds a value of 2% to the GDP of Pakistan.
Pithawalla, Maneck. A Physical and Economic Geography of Sind. Hyderabad: Sindhi Adabi Board, 1979.
Rahman, Mushtaqur. Land and Life in Sindh, Pakistan. Lahore: Ferozsons, 1993.