The trend of kitchen gardening is gaining popularity in Rawalpindi as an increasing number of people, especially women, take a keen interest in growing organic vegetables at their houses.
Agricultural Department Assistant Director Muhammad Haroon said that around 10,000 families in Rawalpindi were benefitting from a kitchen gardening project and utilising their roofs, balconies, and corridors for growing hygienic and organic vegetables. The number of such families in Islamabad was around 40,000, he said.
Haroon said plastic bags, boxes, tyres, and other discarded materials could be used for this purpose. “We provide free of cost seeds to the people to grow six types of vegetables. Three years ago, we used to sell only a few hundred seeds, but now there has been a drastic increase and we sell over 100,000 seeds in the district,” he said.
The official said that families from rural areas purchase seeds of olives, dates and red chillies. “Homegrown vegetables are fresh, healthy, free from toxins, pesticides and are completely hygienic and their use has a pleasant effect on health,” he said.
Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) Chairman Tariq Murtaza said that the kitchen gardening experiment was quite successful.
Around two years ago, he said, the authority distributed plantation racks and stands gifted by Turkish company Tieka. Turkish Ambassador Ehsan Mustafa had inaugurated the project. Approximately 500 heavy pot stands were distributed and each stand could grow eight different vegetables.
“Earlier, we gifted big racks planted with eight different vegetables to families on easy instalments,” he said, adding that it was very encouraging to see that women were on the front foot in the kitchen gardening project.
The RDA chairman said that they have started growing vegetables that were used frequently in cooking, such as tomatoes, chillies and mint leaves.
A kitchen gardener, Yasmin Shahid, talking to The Express Tribune, said that apart from racks provided by the RDA, she utilised broken buckets and plastic containers of oils to grow vegetables. “I don’t buy tomatoes, peas, garlic, courgette, coriander, mint leaves, green chillies from the market anymore,” she said.
Another kitchen gardener, Kausar Parveen, said that the initiative has not only helped her overcome her kitchen expenses but also she now cooks fresh vegetables for her family. She said that she was using her rooftop for the kitchen gardening.
The RDA chairman shared that the winter was approaching, and it was the best time to grow vegetables, including turnips, peas, carrots, spinach, coriander, garlic and beetroot.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2021.
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