Punjab on the threshold of 'vegetable revolution'

The Punjab government has chalked out a plan to boost vegetable cultivation in view of per capita consumption of vegetables that is low in Pakistan compared to the global standards.

Speaking to WealthPK, Director General Pest Warning & Quality Control of Pesticides, Punjab, Dr. Ghulam Abbas, said the importance of vegetables to fulfill the nutritional diet requirements could not be denied; however, people in Pakistan were not consuming vegetables as per the global standard.

"Our population is growing, and we are facing the challenge of ensuring an adequate quantity of vegetables for our people. Experts say a person should consume 300 to 350 grams of vegetables daily, but in Pakistan, the amount stands at 100 to 150 grams per person per day. We have to increase the consumption ratio," Dr Abbas stressed.

He said the farmers were being trained in modern vegetable production and had been asked to remain in touch with the agriculture department staff. The government is ensuring an increase in vegetable production by training the farmers on modern lines, he added.

Dr Abbas said a development project worth more than Rs310 millions had been started to reduce the use of pesticides on paddy and vegetables. Under this project, the farmers are being trained practically to ascertain how to get good production without pesticides.

Through this project, he said the government would try to attain global standards and produce pesticide-free products.

The dealers are also being practically trained under the project so that they can also ascertain the hazards of pesticides, he added.

Dr. Tehmina Anjum of the agriculture department said indiscriminate and unnecessary use of pesticides on paddy and vegetables was putting financial burden on the farmers and affecting the per acre production.

"Vegetables and paddy are integral parts of our diet and it's imperative for the farmers to avoid indiscriminate spraying. They must ensure proper spray intervals which will protect the friendly insects and enhance crop production, "she emphasized.

Abdul Haq, a Sargodha Road farmer, told WealthPK that the farmers must be trained in how to spray vegetables properly and how to avoid the post-harvest losses. He said it's praiseworthy that the government was trying to enhance vegetable production but it must ensure a close liaison with the farmers.
 
He said vegetables like turnip, cabbage, radish, carrot, spinach, fenugreek etc. which were earlier used as animal fodder were now being sold at the higher rates. 
Like agriculturists, he said, doctors were also worried about the diminishing per capita consumption of vegetables in Pakistan.
 
Dr Muhammad Irfan, assistant professor of medicine at the Allied Hospital, told WealthPK that enhancing vegetable cultivation would lead to a healthier Pakistan. We have to ensure a nutritious diet for everyone but in the obtaining circumstances access to such a diet is a critical challenge, he added.
 
"Our population is increasing and the resources of masses are decreasing due to the rising inflation. The step taken by the Punjab government will hopefully ensure the availability of vegetables at affordable rates. People have to make vegetables a part of their diet if they want to stay healthy, but ironically, the per capita consumption is low in Pakistan as compared to the global benchmark.

"Being a doctor, I would request the government to keep a permanent check on the use of pesticides because the negative elements will try to boost vegetable production with the unwise use of pesticides," said Dr Irfan.

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