The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has introduced tunnel-farming in the tribal districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with the support of USAID as part of its efforts to promote effective modern ways of agricultural production in the wide-range climate of the region.
Seventy-five walk-in tunnels were installed in Khyber, South Waziristan, North
Waziristan and Orakzai District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under the project.
The activities were initiated before the onset of Covid-19, and as such provided a timely relief to local farmers who could enjoy the harvest when their lives and livelihoods were disrupted due to the lockdown.
These farmers were provided walk-in tunnel structures and high quality certified vegetable seeds that were cultivated and were ready to be harvested. This activity was part of a restoring subsistence and promoting modern commercial agriculture program in the tribal districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa which aimed to promote sustainable agriculture enterprise development by establishing market structures and services, developing value chains, expanding markets, and building capacity of both men and women farmers.
Before the onset of Covid-19, FAO steered extensive job trainings for the farmers and arranged external exposure visits to introduce them to tunnel farming.
The familiarization with modern technology targetted capacity-building and increased profitability from agricultural activities.
During the Covid-19 pandemic and related lockdown, producing and harvesting vegetables under tunnels would enable farmers to have enough agriculture produce for a diversified diet for self-consumption as well as for selling in their neighborhoods and local markets.
FAO is also supporting these tunnel farmers in developing linkages with local and national markets.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2020.