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Horticulture can tackle escalating food security, unemployment: Mushahidullah.

Islamabad -- Federal Minister for climate change, Senator Mushahidullah Khan has said that promoting horticulture in the country can help convert large-scale cultivable wasteland into a huge economic opportunity and such initiative can also help tackle escalating food security and unemployment.

"Millions of people in the country, the vast majority of them women and children, suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. However, horticultural crops can play a vital role in solving this national micronutrient crisis and in return boosts incomes and job opportunities, particularly for women," the minister stated this while addressing the inaugural ceremony of large Horticulture Park here on Tuesday.

The horticulture park has been established by the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) in an initiative to boost the horticulture sector in the country.

Quoting reports of international researcher organization, he said that horticulture crop production can create new jobs. Besides generating jobs on the farm, the horticultural sector also generates off-farm employment, especially for women, Khan added.

He told that Pakistan with diverse soil and climate comprising several agro-ecological regions provided ample opportunity to grow a variety of horticulture crops.

These crops form a significant part of total agricultural produce in the country comprising of fruits, vegetables, root and tuber crops, flowers, ornamental plants, medicinal and aromatic plants, spices, condiments, plantation crops and mushrooms, Mushahidullah Khan added.

He highlighted that within agriculture, accounts for 25 percent share to national GDP and over 40 percent employments, the horticulture is a sector of unprecedented economic value. For, it contributes production of fruits 6.2 million tons, vegetables 5.0 million tons, citrus 2.0 million tons, mangoes 1.0 million tons, dates 0.63 million tons and apples 0.4 million tons.

"Pakistan, earns over 120 million dollar in foreign exchange reserve annually from export of the horticulture productions. By further boosting area under horticulture all over the country, such income can be increased significantly," the minister said.

He highlighted that the horticultural sub-sector sector of the agriculture already plays a unique role in the countrys agro-based economy. This sector offers a promising role in improving the income of the rural people, where most of the hungry and poor people live.

Mushahidullah Khan told the participants that fruits and vegetables are also rich source of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, etc, which are essential in human nutrition. Hence, these are referred to as protective foods and assumed great importance as nutritional security of the people. "Thus, cultivation of horticultural crops plays a vital role in the prosperity of a nation and is directly linked with the health and happiness of the people," Khan stressed.

He called for need to utilize huge cultivable wasteland, which is lying idle, and bring it under orchard crops without curtailing the area under food crops. Representatives of the FWO and others from different relevant government and non-governmental sector also spoke on the occasion and lauded FWOs initiative of Horticulture Park.

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Publication:The Frontier Star (Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan)
Date:Jul 29, 2015
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