SWAT: The farmers in Utror and Gabral valleys said the recent floods inflicted more than Rs220 million losses on them by washing away their agricultural lands.
The affected farmers told Dawn that Utror and Gabral valleys were famous for high quality vegetables and salad including broccoli, lettuce, parsley, leek, bacon, iceberg lettuce, Chinese cabbage, peas, turnip, potatoes and many others.
They said that the vegetables and different varieties of salad were ready to transport to the market when the floods not only destroyed their produce but also washed away nearly 90 per cent of the agricultural land in the area.
Mohammad Younas, a farmer of Sagal area in Utror valley, said that he exported his vegetables to the Middle East and his produce of Chinese cabbage and peas was ready but the floods swept away nearly his entire agricultural land.
“The exporters and dealers give us advance money for seeds. Only this season, the farmers have received Rs220 million as advance from the dealers. The vegetable yield this season was very good and we were happy to not only return the advance money but also earn handsome money but the floods left us indebted to the dealers,” he said.
Mr Younas said that he himself got Rs3 million as advance for his vegetables. He said that the remaining 15 per cent of the vegetables produce would go waste and perish in the fields owing to destruction of the main road from Kalam to Utror.
“We have an alternate dirt track from Utror to Patrak in Upper Dir district but the 4x4 jeeps charge us Rs800 for 50 kilograms of vegetables. It is very expensive and due to the bad condition of the road, half of the vegetables get damaged too before reaching the market,” he said.
The farmers said that about 20 trucks full of vegetables and salads would leave for Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi on daily basis.
“I grow nearly all types of salad, which I sell to MacDonald, KFC and some big hotels in Islamabad but my standing crop was washed away by the floods inflicting about Rs3.5 million of losses on me,” he said.
The farmers demanded of the government to immediately restore the main road from Kalam to Gabral so that they could transport the remaining vegetables to market.
Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2022