Apple – A Cash Crop of Pakistan
Fruit production is not only a gainful activity for the cultivators but also an excellent source of earning rich foreign exchange for the country. Fruits are also famous as one of the richest sources of minerals and vitamins, which are essential for human health and growth.
Apple, a sweet and significant fruit of moderate climate, is very well-liked the world over. It was first cultivated in Greece around 600 BC or before. As the time passes, various types of wild varieties came into knowledge. Those varieties were most probably expanded by animals into Europe, prior to practicing real cultivation.
It is relevant to write that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” adding to it, keeps the old-age away, as well. It is a highly nutritious fruit having vital food elements such as sugar, fat, protein, carbohydrates and vitamins A, B & C in a naturally balanced proportion. In Europe and America apple is regarded as “a flagon of vitamins”. It is placed third in consumption following citrus and banana and is almost available throughout the year.
Pakistan is blessed with the diversity of land, soil and climatic conditions which are favorable for the cultivation of various fruits, crops and vegetables. The beautiful and fertile hill valley regions in the north-west of Punjab, K.P.K. and Baluchistan provinces are conducive for the cultivation of almost all the temperate fruits.
A plentiful production of fruits could pave the way for installation of processing industries and can eventually guides towards an increased employment ratio and encouragement of exports of fruits and its related products.
Apples have been cultivated on commercial scales in areas of K.P.K and Baluchistan, since centuries. Due to its lucrative income, apple cultivation was also adopted by the cultivators in Dir, Swat, Mansehra, Chitral, Parachinar, Hunza areas and South and North-Waziristan Agencies.
Only district Swat of Pakistan covers an area of about over 4000 square miles within the Malakand Division. The area consists of river valleys surrounded by beautiful mountains and has lush valleys and is a main source of supplies to the main Swat Plain. Swat district is one of the most central districts of the entire apple producing areas of K.P.K. The others are Dir, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Hunza and Chitral.
According to an economic survey, Pakistan produces about 700,000 metric tones of apples every year (estimated figures). And the share of Baluchistan province is about 60%. K.P.K. contributes 25% of the total apple fruit production. The remaining 15% is being produced in Sindh and Punjab. As per the statistics of a survey of UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Pakistan’s apple production is more than that of Britain, Canada and/or Israel.