Islamabad : The Gilgit-Baltistan could earn billion of rupees from exports of fruits if proper infrastructure is provided in the said area, said Ahmed Jaward, CEO Harvest Trading and Member Export Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI).
Talking to PPI he said fruits and horticulture are the main sources of Gilgit-Baltistan’s economy but regretted that no proper heed was being paid by the public sector organizations towards this paradise. He observe that there are huge opportunities exist in agriculture sector and organic farming.
Climate and abundant water resources make it ideally suitable for marvelous growth of this sector in Gilgit Baltistan, where immense potential is yet to be exploited, he added. He said the most scrumptious fruits in Gilgit Baltistan include apricots, peaches, mulberries, apples and honey-dew melons. The trees of almonds and walnuts also gown rapidly.
Jawad said the harsh weather of Gilgit Baltistan disables the annual farming and it is only possible during summers and springs and that too for a short time. He informed people usually harvest crops and dry the fruits to survive the harsh climate of winters. As there is shortage of arable and cultivable land, the farming is on small scale and the harvest is barely meets the requirements of the local population, he added.
The most popular fruit of Gilgit Baltistan is apricot, he said, adding a huge variety of apricot are found there such as Khalman, Kho, Marghulam and many more. He said each type has its own specific characteristics. Continuous experimentation of new verities is going on as to produce more juicy, sweet and flavored fruits.
He further informed dates, mango, plums, cherry, peaches, blue berries, water and honey melon are grown in Gilgit-Baltistan. He said dry fruits are the culture of Pakistan. These delicious dry fruits are shipped all over the heart of Asia and are being sued in the preparation of sweet dishes and tasty traditional cuisines, he said. People of Gilgit Baltistan don’t appreciate the usage of fertilizers and technology and prefer to use the traditional farming which is good for health point of view, he revealed.
He noted the prospects of foreign investment, saying investors could launch ventures in different alluring sectors. Meanwhile, he disclosed that Indonesia has expressed desire to extend maximum cooperation to Gilgit-Baltistan government in its efforts aimed at bringing progress and prosperity in the area. He said Indonesia has the expertise in these areas and the sharing of technical skills could create a win-win situation.
Japan has also agreed to provide around Rs437 million in aid for promoting manufacture of value added fruit products in Gilgit-Baltistan. Japan International Cooperation Agency has extended the firm commitment to fund value addition of apples and apricots,” he said.
He said the products of Gilgit Baltistan could be transported to Islamabad/Rawalpindi, which is nearly 600 KMs away. He said non availability of cold storage and export quality packaging material are hampering the exports. He said construction of roads and infrastructure in Gilgit-Baltistan are also on the cards as investors are keen to invest in construction of all weather airports in Gilgit and Skardu. He was optimistic that investment in Gilgit-Baltistan would not only benefit to G-B but also help strengthen the economy of the country.