Importance and Potential of Fruits production in Gilgit-Baltistan
According to physicians regular fruit intake prevents many diseases and keeps our body healthy. For example, fresh and dry apricots and its juice are helpful in removing constipation and other stomach related problems. Further, certain amount of walnut and almond intake and usage of its oil can lower high blood pressure and provide remedy to cardio vascular malady. Thus regular fruits intake are very useful for our health by fulfilling deficiencies of various vitamins in our body.
Bulks of fruits are produced across GB but due to non availability of necessary tools and training facilities to farmers and gardeners huge quantity of fruits gets rotten and spoiled. It is roughly estimated that nearly 70 percent apricots get spoiled annually due to monsoon rains, lack of awareness and necessary preservation tools in District Ghizer alone.
Further, almond, walnut, cherries and pears are not sold in market rate owing to lack of access facilities and capacities. This year, local markets in GB were packed with Chinese fruits such as almond, pears and grapes due to which local fruit rates went down drastically as their products and marketing were of good quality than the local ones but not good by taste owing to inorganic production.
However, some NGOs like Local Support Organizations under the supervision of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) with the collaboration of Government Agricultural Department GB, some farmers are provided training and necessary tools regarding better fruit production with good marketing skills. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has also been working in GB to develop agriculture sector to exploit uncultivated and barren lands by constructing water channels.
In addition, an association such as Mountain Area Fruit of Farmers’ Association which is a representative body of farmers in Gilgit-
e successful stories in fruit productions and marketing in the region where farmers are getting economically stable over the period of time as they generate sufficient income by using scientific methods of fruit production.
Nevertheless, majority of farmers are facing challenges due to poor financial condition and lack of trainings to grow lucrative flowering plants, better production and marketing skills in different valleys of GB. Therefore, Local Government, Agriculture Department and NGOs should conduct awareness campaign by providing trainings to farmers and gardeners across the region and supply necessary tools to quantify their production with good marketing skills.
Finally, fruit processing centers and factory should be established in every district of GB where pickles, jams and juices can be prepared and supply to down country and even can be exported abroad. Hence, it will be an important source of income and revenue generation as well and will ultimately boast up the living standard of local residents of GB.