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Marketing facilities for fruit growers demanded

CHITRAL: Upper Chitral and Lotkoh valleys are famous for producing superb quality of apricots, mulberry and apples, but owing to lack of marketing and preservation facilities, most of the fruits go to waste, depriving poor farmers of much needed income. MPA from upper Chitral, Syed Sardar Hussain Shah said the surplus fruit was fed to animals and only a fraction of it could be dried by farmers using traditional ways. “Local market is flooded with dried fruit from Gilgit-Baltistan and Afghanistan and people purchase it at higher rates,” he said and added that about 155 varieties of apricot of superb quality had been found in upper Chitral only. The lawmaker said that imported white mulberry was sold at Rs400 kilogram, whereas local variety was much better in quality and cheaper in price, but due to absence of preserving methods, the locally produced fruit never reached the markets. Mr Shah said that extra quantity of fruit could also be utilised for manufacturing jam and pickle for both household consumption and marketing to augment income of poor farmers. “I lament seeing that people purchase a bottle of pickle or jam of a national or multi-national company at over Rs300, which can be made of local fruit at much cheaper rate,” he said. Mr Shah said that women could be used for processing the extra amount of fruits which would lead to their financial emancipation. The lawmaker said that proper dehydration gadgets were needed for preservation and packaging of fruits so they could be marketed in an effective manner to raise incomes of the poverty stricken people. Mr Shah urged the government and non-governmental organisations to come forward with a crash programme of helping the farmers better market their produce. He expressed his resolve to approach the government as well as the private sector with a comprehensive plan in that regard.–Zahiruddin]]>

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