SAHIWAL: Storage of chaff has always been important for farmers and later for traders as well, and ‘Dhar’ is the traditional way to do that which is still in practice.
These are the golden pyramid-like structures one may come across while traveling on side-roads amid fields. Their sizes vary according to the needs of those who own them.
A Dhar for large-scale (mostly commercial) storage of chaff, locally called tori, can store 5,000 to 8,000 maunds. Those made by farmers for storing chaff to be used as fodder for their cattle are smaller.
Muhammad Afzal, a labourer from Chichawatni specialising in construction of Dhar, says the structure is indigenous as the material used in its making – a paste comprising mud and chaff -- is readily available.
He says for a team of around ten labourers it takes seven to eight days to make a large Dhar used for storage of 6,000 maunds of chaff. A traditional Dhar is usually about 60-foot high and around 160-foot wide at the bottom, he adds.
He says the technique is to spread chaff and press it layer by layer and then pave the outer sides with a thick paste of mud mixed with tori.
Imran Ali Kathia of Chichawatni city, who has been dealing in tori for last 10 years and engages labour for making Dhar every season for storage purpose told Dawn, “Our business has a peak of just 45-50 days i.e from April 15 to May 30 -- the wheat threshing season.”
He says bundles of dry wheat straw are purchased from local growers after the harvest is complete for around Rs225-250 per maund. These bundles are cut with the help of a cutter to convert them into chaff (tori) that is cleaned before its storage in the form of Dhar, he adds.
“Paper mills at Kot Lakhpat and Phool Nagar are our potential buyers,” Malik Altaf, owner of pressing unit says. Paper mills buy tori for Rs450-Rs475 per maund.
Ahmed Ali, a farmer supplying tori for commercial storage says there is 100pc profit and no chance of loss in the business.
Kathia says he also supplies tori to shopkeepers in local cattle market and in Lahore that is used as fodder for goats and sheep.
“But to keep the supply regular you need a large stock at hand and Dhar is the only option for such a large-scale storage,” he adds.
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2014