MINGORA: As tourists flock to the beautiful Swat Valley, varieties of ripe peaches, plums and apricots add to their tastes and pleasures.
Known for its high quality and juicy content, the fruits from Swat are very popular not just in the valley but across the country.
Tourism and agriculture being the two major sources of income in Swat, the valley supplies around 113,000 tons of fruit with an economic return of Rs1,430 million to the national market every year. The data was shared by the Agriculture Extension Department.
The fruit industry provides a sizeable business to the orchard owners, while a large number of workers draw income from this trade.
Syed Alam, a fruit picker, told The Express Tribune that orchards are the source of their livelihood.
“We are a total of 40 friends and relatives doing business with a single dealer regularly. We earn Rs350 per day,” he said, adding that once the orchard season is over, they do other work.
The harvest season which lasts from May to November is a busy time for the fruit dealers.
“More than a hundred workers have been working with me for around 18 years. Though, sometimes we lose a lot of money however the business is good and we are happy,” Mohammad Alam Khan, a fruit dealer told The Express Tribune.
According to agriculture experts, Swat is a hub of horticulture crops in the whole region where more than 35,000 acre land is under fruit cultivation, which totals to 30% of fruits supplied to the national market.
“The nursery production of Swat valley ranks third in the country while in peach production, Swat is on the top as every third peach available in the market is from Swat.
Similarly, every fourth apple provided to the national market is by Swat,” Fazal Maula, an agriculture researcher, told The Express Tribune.
In the recent years, Swat witnessed growth in the fruit market as large areas were converted to orchards.
However, agriculture researchers said that more than 200,000 acres land still lies barren.
If this land was brought under cultivation, it will not only increase the amount supplied to the national fruit market but will also contribute to the local economy.
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