— Dawn
— Dawn

CHITRAL: The people of Baroghil area here have started growing different varieties of vegetables and cereals with the help of passive solar greenhouses.

Talking to Dawn on Sunday, Baroghil’s former village nazim Amin Jan Tajik said living standards and income of the people had improved since they started the new farming technique.

He said almost 100 per cent population had started farming this way to augment their income.

He said situated at an altitude of about 13,000 feet, the normal growing season of the area was limited to about two months in a year leaving the residents with the only choice of raising yaks and goats for their sustenance.

Mr Tajik said the issue of extreme climate was solved with the introduction of solar greenhouses, where an ambient temperature for farming is maintained throughout the year.

He said the system was first introduced by Aga Khan Rural Support Programme by establishing a number of demonstration plots, and the initiative’s success prompted the residents to simulate it with the result that the greenhouses could now be seen in every part of the valley comprising seven villages.

“The arrangement has worked tremendously as vegetables are grown inside the greenhouses during the extended winter season spanning over seven months,” he said.

Mr Tajik said the quality and quantity of vegetables and pulses were second to no other place of the district, thus enabling the residents to sell their produce and earn hard cash.

“This has also improved nutritional levels of locals, who had nothing to eat other than meat and milk products as they were totally unfamiliar with vegetables, including tomato and onion. Now they have diversified their daily menu of food,” he said.

Zar Gulab Shah of Chikar village said during the last two years, his income had nearly doubled as he sold the bumper crops of tomato, bean, eggplant and turnip in market.

In the past, he added, he only sold yaks to earn cash to meet his domestic needs.

He said sheets of glass and transparent plastic of a particular thickness coupled with some iron bars were the basic requirements for erecting a glass house, which the farmers did by selling a yak or two goats.

He said the local support organisation also helped them out in that regard.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2021

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