PESHAWAR (July 19 2007): The government is committed to promote agriculture in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and huge funds are being spent on reclamation of cultivable wasteland, conversion of wild olives into oil-bearing fruits and introduction of beneficial micro-organism technology so that the lifestyle of farmers could improve.
In this regard the government had already established Farm Services Centers in tribal areas where over 6,600 farmers have so far been registered. These farmers have been imparted training about modern farming and were provided 800 tonnes of improved seed and 600 tonnes of fertiliser during 2006-07.
Last year about 14,000 acres of cultivable wasteland was reclaimed under Fata ADP and ASPL-II programme of the Minfal Islamabad on 70:30 share basis. The government has so far reclaimed 40,000 acres of land while 100,000 acres of more land would be reclaimed under the Sustainable Development Plan for Fata.
Moreover, five million wild olive plants would be converted into oil-bearing varieties under two different projects during the current financial year. The project costing Rs 642 million would enhance the oil production and generate employment.
As an interim arrangement the government is providing one oil extractor each to all the farm centers for extracting oil from olive. It is pertinent to note that more than 0.8 million wild olive trees were converted into fruit bearing varieties during 2003-04 in Bajaur Agency alone. The government has also introduced plastic tunnel technology so that farmers could improve their earnings through off-season vegetables.
The Fata Agricultural Department laid out 1,000 demonstration plots of off season vegetables in Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, North and South Waziristan Agencies, FRs Peshawar and Bannu and trained 300 farmers in growing off season vegetables. Besides, fruit orchards were laid out on 200 acres under the ADP 2006-07.
Beneficial micro-organism technology has also been introduced in many parts of the Fata to benefit the tribal farmers. Two projects on this technology have been started in Bajaur and Khyber under which 176 demonstration plots were laid out during 2006-07.