Unaware of the severe heat wave in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Zakir Khan, a poor fruit vendor, used a hand fan to dry his perspiration as he sat in front of his wicker basket filled with locally grown organic bananas.
Sitting on a footpath in the fruit and vegetable market of Pabbi Bazaar, Nowshera in scorching heat amid shopkeepers’ cries of low prices, Zakir Khan, who wiped his sweaty face and arms with a white shawl, began to realize substantial profits for his eight-member family after the growing trend of using organic food among the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“My sons collect bananas from different villages, farms and load them into his Qingqi rickshaw to sell at Pabbi fruit market in Nowshera district,” Zakir, who has been associated with the agency, told APP. organic food industry over the past five years. He said, “Nowadays, most people prefer to buy the fruits that come directly from the trees or the fields instead of buying non-organic fruits, which are often processed using different chemicals and pesticide sprays.”
“Before 2017, I was associated with non-organic fruit, then I switched to an organic business taking into account its high profit margin,” he said, adding that a dozen organic bananas were sold between 150 and 180 rupees against 100 and 100 rupees. Rs 120 non-organic in the local market as consumer response to the first was encouraging due to its high nutritional value. “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, I have continued my business and have now been able to hire two more workers to purchase organic bananas to meet customer demands.” He said people of all ages, including women, the elderly and children, are taking a keen interest in organic fruit and “we are working tirelessly to meet market demand.”
“In the summer, I sell organic fruits such as bananas, peaches, cherries, jamans, mangoes and grapes, while in the winter the investments are in walnuts, pine nuts, apples and oranges in because of their biological nature and high profit value,” he said. , adding that he plans to export the organic products to Afghanistan and Central Asian republics if financial support is provided by the KP government.
Dr Fazal Wahab, director of agricultural research merged tribal districts, said North Punjab, KP, East Balcohstain, Azad Kashmir, Sindh and Gilgit Baltistan are suitable for farming organic. He said the climate in KP is the most suitable for organic farming, especially that of Malakand, Hazara Divisions and merged tribal districts of Kurram, South Wazirisrtan and North Waziristan.
He said Pakistan’s fertile soil is most suited for the production of different varieties of organic fruits and vegetables, adding that the country’s nuts, chalgoza, orange, locots, chaunsa mangoes and peas are preferred in domestic and international markets. because of their nutritional value. and better taste.
Peas from Batakundi, Kalam and Parachinar, wheat and maize flour from southern Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sind districts were organic in nature as there is hardly any use of pesticides. He said farmers are gradually shifting to organic practices because of its three times higher profitability than non-organic fruit.
Dr. Wahab cited a research study suggesting that the amount of certain nutrients may vary between conventional and organic bananas, adding that the latter was higher in zinc, fiber and vitamins than the former. He said about 1,000 organic plants including herbs, saffron, aloe vera, medicinal and cosmetic plants were produced in the country. “However, we still have to import different herbaceous plants to meet the needs of the pharmaceutical industry.
Cultivation of saffron, aloe vera and olives has been launched in the country, including in KP, where the size of the organic produce market has almost doubled in recent years.
The director of agricultural research said that a quality certification agency mainly determined whether the product was organic or non-organic, adding that the country lacked such services and most farmers relied on the global food agency. Good Agricultural Practices for certification before exporting their products to Europe. Union. He said Pakistani farmers had to pay about 1.5 million rupees per five acres for the certification of their organic produce, adding that interested farmers received a year-long training in growing and raising organic produce. ‘Organic Agriculture.
Dr Wahab said organic farming was a very profitable business and a farmer could easily earn 30% more profit than non-organic from an acre of produce. “The Department of Agriculture has started a mega project ‘Agricultural Products and Organic Agriculture Certification’ in the province under which farmers interested in organic farming are given training and certification services would also be issued. “, did he declare.
Climate change, he said, was a big challenge for organic farming, adding that because of this, the number of insects and plant diseases had increased, as evidenced by the attack of locusts. pilgrims in southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2020 which inflicted huge losses on farmers. Five new research stations will be established in Bajaur, Parachinar, Shawal North Waziristan, Kalam and Kaghan to promote organic farming, he added.