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Over 40pc guava orchards in Kohat damaged by hailstorm

Over 40pc guava orchards in Kohat damaged by hailstorm

KOHAT: The famous guava orchards spread roughly over an area of 1,700 acres in Kohat have suffered 40 to 43 per cent damage in the last week’s hailstorm, according to a survey conducted by the agriculture department.

The fruit was damaged in the city where it was spread over 500 acres in Shahpur, Jarwanda, Chakar Kot and in areas along Kohat Toi (stream) and Rawalpindi Road besides Sheikhan, Nasratkhel, Kaghazi, Ustarzai, Mohammadzai and localities on Hangu Road, it said.

When contacted, agriculture department’s district executive officer Zahirullah told Dawn that the damage was widespread and they had collected the data by sending their teams to all parts of Kohat to assess the losses after the hailstorm hit the area. He said that they would send the detailed report to the director general extension wing of agriculture department, Peshawar, for action.

The president of Model Farms Services Centre, Kohat, Iftikhar Hussain who represents the farmers, demanded of the government to provide financial help to the affected farmers because they would have to wait till next winter to get the new crop and make up for the losses.

He said that guava was the most fragile crop with a maximum life span of five to six hours and they earned over 90 per cent of the revenue during winter when the fruit contracted no worms and was sent to Peshawar and the Gulf countries as gift and sold for Rs80 per kilogramme locally and in parts of KP. However, the price of Kohat guava goes up to Rs150 per kilogramme in Punjab.

Now the farmers would have to wait till next winter to get the crop, but in the meantime they need help of the government. The losses were significant for the farmers for whom guava is the sole mean to earn livelihood.

An official told Dawn on the condition of anonymity that in such cases in the past the government had never helped the farmers of Kohat. The orchards were rapidly being converted into business plazas in the city which fetched much profit for landowners compared to the fatigue involved in caring for the guava fruit.

Mr Hussain said that if the government patronised the business of making jams and juice of guava the growers could earn a handsome profit. He said that the farmers should be provided loans and expertise to establish such factories for making value-added items.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2015

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