ISLAMABAD, Sept 14: The growers are confident that naturally grown fruits and vegetable market will attract more buyers in future as at present the organic food is restricted to those who can afford it.
“The only problem is that there is no system to ensure that the produce is organic and no chemical-based additives have been used,” said Hamid Khan.
An educationist by profession, Hamid Khan has shifted from Peshawar to Fatehjang where he has established a small farm growing vegetables, corns and raising chicken in a natural way.
“We come across well-wishers daily telling us to use this bottle or that which will boost the chilly production by 200 per cent and things like that,” he said. “And the worst part is that they consider the usage of these additives as part of the natural process.”
Growers and a dairy farmer who believe in the business of naturally produced agri-products gathered at the weekly farmers’ bazaar organised by Kuch Khaas here on Saturday.
Though currently limited to a few hands only as most of the buyers of purely organic food are foreigners living in Islamabad, the idea seemed to be gaining popularity as improvements in sales have been witnessed over the previous weeks.
The main issue in growing food through natural process without the usage of pesticides, insecticides and other production boosters at plants is the higher cost of produce.
Compared to the farm chicken eggs available at Rs98 per dozen in the markets the price of one dozen backyard (desi) chicken eggs is Rs240 and green chillies Rs200 per kg.
But people, who understand the importance of food grown in the natural way, prefer these products it because of the improved taste and nutrition value.
“We have seen it for ourselves and several researches have also proved that eating chemically-treated fruits and vegetables reduces immunity and resistance of the body,” said Ayaz Khan, a progressive farmer from Swabi in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
He came to the farmers market with a variety of Lisbon lemons which are large, juicy and have thick peels. While it seems to be a fun activity for Ayaz Khan, as his grandchildren were manning the stall offering wild honey and lemons, the most important advantage of the market is that it is providing an option to those seeking to buy organic and hygienic food.
The sellers not only included growers but also those who processed food, including cottage cheese and other dairy products.
“We produce around 1,000 litres of milk daily and despite slightly higher price the demand is rising that shows an increase in the level of understanding a healthy diet,” Brig (retired) Ayaz said.
Mr Ayaz in partnership with his wife operates a company offering pure cow milk to the residents of the federal capital at his farm at Kuri road.
The farmers market might be an activity by Kuch Khaas to lure more customers but it has also aroused thoughts among many to establish a sale outlet or a group of growers and producers of really organic and hygienic food.
Such a move can pave the way for more farmers to join the ranks of growers not using chemicals in their fields or injections etc., at their cattle.