Archive for November 23rd, 2010

Developing household farming

Post Source: Dawn Economic & Business Review

By Tahir Ali

ESCALATING prices of kitchen items have greatly impacted household budgets in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. But the people can improve their livelihood by developing kitchen gardens and poultry farms on a small scale in the backyard of their houses.
Building a small poultry farm or animal-shed can do wonders to the household economies as it helps save money, raises income and has the potential to help meet the household poultry and meat needs. “In villages where houses are spacious, there is always room for sowing seasonal vegetables. In urban areas, where there is no such space available, this can be done in pots, empty boxes etc,” a Peshawar-based teacher Farhad Ali said.

“These kitchen gardens not only have health advantage as they require physical exertion and offer fresh nontoxic commodities, they also have great financial value as surplus produce can be sold in the market. It is also vital as almost half of the people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa live below poverty line,” he added.

“I myself have such a farm in the backyard of my house where vegetables like cabbage, turnip and spinach have been sown. We not only use these vegetables but also gift them to our neighbours and sell the surplus in the market. It has brought down our kitchen budget by about 50 per cent. It is a good hobby and income-generating activity. I intend to expand it further,” he said.

Government and NGOs can help this culture by providing people with quality vegetable seeds, pesticides, fertiliser and guidance, he added.

One Azmat Ali Khan from Mardan said he had developed a small poultry farm of local fowls in his home. “I built a medium size cage and started with five fowls. Now there are 30 hens and on an average 20 eggs are obtained daily. I have thus saved Rs1,500 which I used to spend on buying eggs per month. Apart from that, I sell the surplus eggs and earn up to Rs3,000 per month. I also sell and buy hens and earn Rs7000-10,000 from this business. Besides, my children have natural poultry meat to eat,” he added.

He said this domestic farming could easily be done even in small houses of urban areas- on rooftops and in garages but with arrangement for light, air and safeguard against harsh weather.

“With agriculture suffering from official negligent and meagre budgetary allocations, it is time for making a case for home-based agriculture. The poor can help themselves by domestic farming and developing poultry farms. It is the main source of living for the people in the hilly terrain of the province, especially in Malakand division and the tribal agencies. It needs to be expanded to the rest of the province,” he said.

“Before Eidul Fitr, I had gone to Thar and bought some goats there. I am earning a lot by selling them as sacrificial animals. I can earn a lot more with this domestic business than waiting for a government job,” says Naufil Shahrukh.

“The main objective of agriculture sector, according to KP`s agriculture policy, is to ensure food security and alleviation of poverty, but it is hardly possible, he said.

“Negligence by successive governments, insufficient budgetary allocations for agriculture and industry/profit-centred private sector has resulted in backwardness of the sector and poverty of farmers. Agriculture accounts for 21 per cent of provincial gross domestic product and about 70 per cent of KP`s population is dependent on it. But the sector`s budget makes up 1.9 per cent of this year`s total core ADP of Rs58 billion,” said Haji Naimat Shah, a farmers` leader.

“It is this culture of domestic agriculture and business that has transformed China into an economic giant. One Nurul Islam from Mardan, who had been to China for over a year, said he was deeply impressed by the domestic agriculture there.

“I visited China last year. We travelled by road and train to several cities and countryside. I was surprised to see crops on all sides of the routes. In homes, offices and on roadsides there are mostly fruit trees and no non-fruit/toxic trees as mostly found in our country.

But what amazed me the most was the overwhelming domestic culture of agriculture there. Almost every household grows vegetables. In houses where there is no space for it, pots are used for the purpose. Old people with sickle and spades are seen working in their `fields` and homes,” he said. “Pakistan should learn from these people and follow their model for developing domestic agriculture,” he added.

“The people should plant fruit trees in their homes and the government should provide free saplings to them. This indeed would be a long-term project but then the next generation would be indebted to us for this act,” Nurul Islam said.