Off-season vegetable production, Walk-in Tunnels introduced in tribal districts of KP

PESHAWAR, May 01 (INP): The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) with the support of USAID has introduced tunnel-farming in tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) as part of efforts to promote effective-modern ways of agricultural production in the wide-range climate of the region.

Under the project, as many as 75 walk-in tunnels are installed in Khyber, South Waziristan, North Waziristan and Orakzai District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The activities were initiated before the onset of COVID-19, and as such provided a welcome and timely relief to local farmers who can now enjoy the harvest at a time when their lives and livelihoods are disrupted due to the lockdown.

These farmers were provided walk-in tunnel structures, high quality certified vegetable seeds that were cultivated and are now ready to be harvested. This activity is part of a restoring subsistence and promoting modern commercial agriculture program in the tribal districts of KP, aiming to promote sustainable agriculture enterprise development, establishing market structures and services, developing value chains, expanding markets, and building capacity of the farmers, both men and women.

FAO steered extensive off and on-job trainings for the farmers and arranged external exposure visits before COVID19 onset, to introduce them to tunnel farming. The familiarization with modern technology targets capacity-building and increased profitability from agricultural activities.

Now during COVID 19 pandemic and related lockdown also in the province, producing and harvesting vegetables under tunnels will enable farmers to have enough agri produces for a diversified diet for self-consumption as well as for selling in their neighborhoods and local markets. FAO is also supporting these tunnel farmers in developing linkages with local and national markets.

FAO Representative in Pakistan stated that “The poorest and most vulnerable groups have higher likelihood to experience higher negative effects of the current pandemic and related lock down. This includes subsistence farmers as well as smallholder farmers’ enterprises. Modernization of Agriculture practices and digital technology to provide real-time information to farmers on prices or to support the supply chain can be effective resilience and mitigation measures in time of shocks such as COVID19”.

FAO will continue to support farmers with modernization and agro-technology in former tribal areas to boost higher value production, food security and agro-livelihood opportunities. Walk-in tunnels help increase productivity– reducing the yield gaps and to achieve sustainable production increases of agro-food through improved agriculture practices.

INP/SB

By Syed Muhammad Asad