Decision to start cargo flights to export fruits hailed

KARACHI: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Standing Committee on Horticulture and Agri Produce’s Chairman, Ahmad Jawad, on Tuesday welcomed the decision by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to start cargo flights in Gilgit Baltistan soon in order to export precious GB fruits to different parts of the world.

Commenting on PM’s today address at Giligit, Jawad said Gilgit-Baltistan’s economy depends largely on fruits and horticulture, we could earn billions of rupees through fruit export which have remained neglected previously. There is need to establish proper infrastructure, he said.

He said: “Though huge opportunities exist in the agriculture sector and organic farming in GB area. Climate and abundant water resources make it ideally suitable for marvellous growth of this sector in Gilgit Baltistan, where immense potential is yet to be exploited.” The most scrumptious fruits in Gilgit Baltistan include apricots, peaches, mulberries, apples and honey-dew melons. Trees of almonds and walnuts also grow rapidly.

He said harsh weather of Gilgit Baltistan disables annual farming and it is only possible during summer and spring and that too for a short time.

The most popular fruit of Gilgit Baltistan is apricot. A huge variety of apricot is found such as Khalman, Kho, Marghulam, and many more. Each type has its own specific characteristics. Continuous experimentation of new varieties is going on as to produce more juicy, sweet and flavoured fruits.

Jawad further said Gilgit-Baltistan also grows dates, mango, plums, cherry, peaches, blue berries, water and honey melon. People of Gilgit-Baltistan don’t appreciate the usage of fertilisers and technology and prefer to use traditional farming which is good from the health point of view.

However, prospects for foreign investment are equally high and the investors could launch ventures in different alluring sectors, he said. Meanwhile, Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) has extended a firm commitment to fund value addition of apples and apricots and also gave them guidance to local farmers to increase the yield and quality as per international standards.

“We must understand investment in Gilgit-Baltistan would not only be beneficial to that particular area but it would also help strengthen the economy of the country,” he remarked.

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