THIS refers to a picture published on July 10 showing a girl and her younger brother selling freshly harvested turnips in a village in Swat’s Kalam valley. Both are all smiles as they await customers.
Swatis have been cultivating turnips for ages and the vegetable is among the most cultivated crops of the region apart from corn. However, I have estimated that the children can multiply their income by 10 times if they switch from turnips to tulips, and Swat’s weather is ideal for these large, showy and brightly coloured flowers.
Let us do the math. I have counted around 120 turnips in the photo. I estimate that the siblings will get Rs80 for a kilogram of the vegetable, or Rs10 per turnip. This means the entire lot can help them fetch Rs1,200.
In contrast, tulip flowers usually sell for Rs100 apiece, suggesting that the kids could earn Rs12,000 if they had the same number of tulips.
Tulips originated from Turkey and now the Netherlands has the widest range of these flowers, which help the country earn billions of dollars in export income. Swat residents, and the relevant authorities, should also promote tulip plantations in the area.
S. Nayyar Iqbal Raza
Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2022