Promoting horticulture in the country can help convert large-scale cultivable wasteland into a huge economic opportunity. Such an initiative can help tackle escalating food insecurity and unemployment.
This was said by Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan while addressing an inaugural ceremony of the Horticulture Park on Tuesday, said a press release.
“Millions of people in the country, mostly women and children, suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Horticultural crops can play a vital role in solving the crisis,” Khan said. Besides, creating jobs on the farm, the sector also generates off-farm employment, especially for women, he added.
The park has been established by the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) as an initiative to boost the horticulture sector in the country.
He highlighted that within agriculture, the horticulture is a sector of unprecedented economic value which accounts for 25 per cent share to national GDP and over 40 per cent employments.
The minister highlighted that horticulture offers a promising role in improving the income of the rural people.
“Pakistan, earns over 120 million dollars in foreign exchange reserve annually from export of horticulture productions.
The income can be increased significantly by further boosting the area under horticulture across the country,” he said.
He called for need to utilise huge cultivable wasteland and bring it under orchard crops without curtailing the area under food crops.
The country has abundant sunshine throughout year, surplus labour and widely varied agro-climatic conditions, which offers high potential for successful and profitable commercial horticulture, he said.
“The need for great utilisation of available wastelands against the background of dwindling water and energy resources has focused attention to dry land, to arid and semi-arid tracts and to horticultural crops. These crops have lesser demands of water and other inputs besides being three to four times more remunerative than field crops,” he said.
Talking about impacts of climate change on horticulture, the minister said that farmers are fast losing their produce due to its negative effects. “For instance, during recent heat wave, mango farmers in Punjab and Sindh lost a big part of their crop while those in northern areas have lost almost every crop due to recent devastating floods,” he recalled.
He urged the agricultural and horticultural scientists to introduce crop varieties which are resilient to climate change.
Representatives of the FWO and different relevant government and non-governmental sector also spoke on the occasion and lauded the organisation’s initiative.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2015.
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