PESHAWAR: A group of civil society organisations has urged the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to review the plan to construct Expo Centre on the selected site on the historic Tarnab Farms.
A joint press release issued by Karwaan Tanzim, Institute of Architects of Pakistan (KP chapter) Da Laas Gul, Idara e Taleem aur Taraqi (Bahrain) Frontier Heritage Trust and Sarhad Conservation Network said that Tarnab Farms were developed by the British in 1908 for food security and development of various agricultural products.
The step was taken to make the region self-sufficient in both staple and cereal grains and different varieties of fruits and vegetables meant for local consumption as well as export purposes.
The NGO said the main areas of work are development of fruit nurseries, quality seed production, olive orchards establishment, soil and water testing services, insects and disease control, germination and food processing for the entire province.
The long-term planning resulted in Peshawar valley becoming the food basket or the entire province in agriculture, producing variety of fruits, vegetables and grains.
The communication said during its 109 years history, the Tarnab Farms have significantly contributed to the economic prosperity of the farming community through introduction and evolution of high yielding varieties of crops, fruits and vegetables, standardisation of agronomic techniques and dissemination of the latest know-how on crop husbandry, soil management, fertilizer use and plant protection measures.It said 200 acres of barren land at Rashakai in Nowshera was originally earmarked for the Expo Centre by both Federal Ministry of Industries and the KP government.
It said under pressure from Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry members, leading senators from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, as well as Awami National Party, the KP government diverted the original plan to precious agricultural Tarnab Farms.
he press release said on May 24, during the ground breaking ceremony of the Expo Center, 25 acres of farmland was destroyed, with 50,000 of orange, peach, plum and others varieties of young saplings being grown for farmers in KP and other regions (Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Afghanistan, etc) for annual plantation season covering approximately 422 acres/ 3,376 of Kanals of land. This has delivered a huge blow to the agricultural industry.
It believed the impact on the agriculture industry of KP would become irreversible if the Tarnab Farms land was not restored.The NGOs said that food security had been a serious global issue of concern in general and of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in particular.
“Rising demand and population explosion with climate change resulting in severe weather patterns disrupting normal seasons and agriculture in the region, once again, the food security has emerged as a complex challenge and may lose centuries-old tradition of farming practices which sustained this,” the communique added.