MINGORA: Agriculture experts and farmers revealed on Saturday that Swat valley produced about 180,000 tons of peach annually but due to lack of proper storage and processing plants of the fruit locally about 40 per cent of the produce went to waste.
Harvest of peach in the valley begins in May and continues till September. According to experts various varieties of peach are grown in Swat, however, early grand, Florida king 6-A and 8-A are considered the most popular.
Director Swat agriculture extension department Fazal Maula said Swat valley had monopoly in peach production as about 200 trucks transported the product out of the valley daily to different fruit markets in the country.
“Peach is the leading crop in Swat grown over 13,000 acres of land, earning a farmer an average of about Rs180,000 per acre,” he told Dawn.
Peach growers said though the fruit was more beneficial crop than others yet it needed extra care.
“It needs a lot of labour and finances to get good income from peach production that involves growing the plant in a careful way, trimming it from time to time and feeding it with different fertilisers,” said Amanullah Khan, a grower in Aboha area.
He added that they also had to conduct regular spraying on peach plants during fruit bearing time to prevent them from harmful insects and diseases.
However, the growers said about 35 to 40 per cent of ripe peaches were wasted as large quantity of fruit fell from trees.
“If the government sets up fruit processing plants in Swat it will become easy for us to take the ripe peaches to the plants to be used in manufacturing of juices, jams and other products,” Akbar Ali of Barikot area said.
Similarly, fruit dealers who purchase peach from the farmers and transport it to the fruit markets said due to the ever increasing production of the fruit in Swat their income had also decreased.
“With every passing year production of peach increases in Swat, also leading to increase in its supply to different markets in the country, thus lowering its price,” Tahir Khan, a dealer in Barikot, said, adding if the government arranged export of peach, then fruit traders could get higher incomes.