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FARMERS TO CULTIVATE ORGANIC FRUITS.

Byline: MANAN ASLAM AND SHAFQAT RASOOL

Agriculture is the solitary largest sector and driving verve of Pakistan's economy. Despite the structural alterations in the economy of Pakistan which have taken place since its independence. According to Economic Survey of Pakistan 2011-12, the share of agriculture in GDP is declining but agriculture still remains the largest sector of the economy accounting for 21 percent to GDP and employing 44 percent of the workforce. Production of food crops (cereal, fruits and vegetables) is one of the most imperative responsibilities of agriculture sector. Agriculture sector has four main components i.e. crops, livestock, forestry and fishery. Crops include major crops (Wheat, Rice, Sugarcane and Cotton), minor crops (Fodder, Pulses and Oilseed) and horticulture crops (Fruits, Vegetables and Condiments).

Mostly food is produced and handled in a traditional way in Pakistan, however with advancement in technology and changes in consumer preferences, the trend for production and consumption of safe and nutritious food is increasing. Organic food has been more popular than ever and its market is growing swiftly. Organic farming is a sustainable faming system that produces healthy crops and livestock without damaging the environment. It avoids the use of artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides, relying on developing a healthy and fertile soil growing a mixture of crops.

Fruits are valued as protecting food and are very rich source of vitamins and minerals. Among fruits, citrus, mango, apple, guava, banana, dates, and melons are leading fruit crops in Pakistan regarding area under cultivation and production (Government of Pakistan, 2012). Fruits are greatly digestible and form a considerable portion of the diet. In Pakistan, production of organic fruits is in its initial stages. Consumers have willingness to consume organic fruits but they have limited knowledge and opportunities to purchase. So more aware the consumer will be of the health benefits associated with organic produce, the more likely they are to make the purchase of organic products. So at this stage it is necessary to explore marketing potential of organic fruits so that appropriate policy measures may be taken for their further expansion and adoption.

In order to promote cultivation of organic fruits on sustainable basis, it is imperative to equip farmers with bio-fertilizer and pesticides technique and they have been encouraged to promote bio-fertilizer and pesticides as the similar technique would be giving them the desired results. There is nothing new about organic farming. It is our old traditional method of farming with cow-dung as manure and neem to keep insects away. There are some other techniques of organic farming which are listed as control of insects by the using farmers' friendly insects (trichograma and chrysoperla). Trychograma is used to control the caterpillars (maggots) of american boll worm and other worms. Its female lays eggs in the eggs of caterpillars and destroys it. Chrysoperla eats the nymphs of aphids. It is enemy of aphid and can eat 100-150 nymphs per day.

Cards of these farmers' friendly insects are also available from Government established labs like Ayub Agricultural Research Institute (AARI) Faisalabad and Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI) Multan.

Another effective method of controlling insects by use of pheromones like Methyl Eugenol because it attracts the male flies and when they enter the trap, they become sterilized and can not mate with females and female can not lay eggs. Insects can also be controlled by using catch crops such as Brassica (sarson) has yellow flowers. It should be sown all around the orchards of fruits and also in between the lines of fruits. Its yellow flowers attract aphid. So, farmers can kill them by using spray at sarson plants in this way the fruit crop will be safe from aphids.

In nut shell, the awareness and education of farmers and consumers can help make these products popular. Therefore, the exploration of market opportunities and the development of a suitable market structure for the supply of organic fruits from the point of cultivation to the consuming centres are of immense importance in this regard. A marketing cooperative society requires to be established solely for the marketing of organic fruits to save the farmers from the exploitation by the pre-harvest contractors. Government should give proper attention for providing organic pesticides to farmers at reasonable prices by establishing organic pesticides centres in various districts. However, international market for fresh fruits is small. Nevertheless, more trade is carried on processed products like jam, jellies juices and nectars, fruit paste, canned whole and halves in syrup.

Some traders believe that there is a good international market potential for organic fruits and that demand will grow as more consumers become acquainted with this fruit.
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Publication:Pakistan & Gulf Economist
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jan 20, 2013
Words:772
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