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Squeezed dry: Oranges, a winter staple, dwindling in numbers in Swat

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A large portion of valley is suitable for the cultivation of oranges. PHOTO: EXPRESS
SWAT: In winter, farmers of Swat revere oranges as they are a major source of income since other fruits go into hibernation, figuratively speaking. However, this season has been less than prosperous as government negligence, lack of resources and fast-disappearing orchards pummel profits into the ground.

Barely 50 orange orchards are left now; 10 years ago there were at least 300.

Pest proof

One of the reasons behind dwindling orange farming is that landlords have been sowing peaches instead as the fruit generates a higher revenue.

Farmer Abdul Wahid, a resident of Swat, says pesticide spray for orange plants is not available; a strong attributing factor to the fruits’ popularity as a crop.

Afzal Khan, another farmer, points out orange orchards will soon vanish as the government is not taking any measures to provide them with a platform for marketing. Vendors, also unhappy with the process, add the price of the fruit increases every year due to the shortage.

Farmers and vendors, all say the agriculture department can provide help. However, none are too hopeful any aid will materialise.

Swat Valley is famously known as the land of fruits as it produces superior quality apples, apricots, peaches as well as many other fruits. There are large fruit farms, dotted with lovely produce, but the only one that grows in the winter is the orange.

A large portion of the valley is suitable for the cultivation of this rather nutritious fruit.

By Sherin Zada Published in The Express Tribune

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