The women working in the date-growing farms in Khairpur are daily wagers, can earn between Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 a month. The district produces 700,000 tons of dates annually, which account for 40% of the total production in the country.
According to the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, the country is well known for its leading date-growth and its exports around the world. A large chunk of these dates come from the Khairpur District in northern Sindh, an estimate shows that the district produces 700,000 tons of dates annually.
The district’s dates are famously known as the “golden crop”. This date business provides employment opportunities to a large number of locals in the area, women have especially the great contribution in this regard. The jobs include, harvesting, cleaning the crop, separating, making baskets and drying of dates, a process that is known locally as “chuhar”.
These women can earn between Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 a month. It is primarily for the income that many families from surrounding areas migrate to Khairpur once a year to harvest the crop.
Moreover, women use the date palm by-products to make handicrafts such as mats (tado), baskets (tokri), pots (pindi) and hand fans, besides processing the dates and choharas (dried dates) at their homes. The date palm leaves are utilised to make hand fans, while the mats are used to sundry the fruit.
A large number of men in the villages do not have regular employment and rely on farming and temporary employment from the date palm business. The majority of women spend this money on their children’s clothing and healthcare while others share this money with their husbands in time of need.
One of the women, Pervezan, 45, says, “Each year, we set up a makeshift house in the Therhi area which is easily accessible from the date farm. The work of harvesting and cleaning the dates starts from early morning and lasts till noon.”
“Most people look down upon me and my children for doing this kind of job, but there is no shame in working hard.” she said.