Helvetas is implementing a project titled “Market and Employment for Peace and Stability” by sensitizing the framers on the use of the latest technologies to improve farming. The project introduced a low-cost walk-in tunnel farming to grow vegetables and fruits. Helvetas selected five farmers in district Charsadda for producing the strawberries and to mitigate the climate vulnerability of the crops which increase in the spring season due to rain.
The strawberries from the tunnel farm arrive two to three months earlier than the same varieties grown conventionally in the open. It seems that the consumers no longer have to wait till April; they can savor their fruit in early spring or even in the middle of winter. The technology does not only help framers in getting early fruits but also to protects 30% of fruits from rotting during monsoon rain especially in March and April.
Tunnel farming is the most effective way to grow and increase the production of the crop. Among five members, there is a story of Mr. Faiz-ur-Rehman who use the tunnel farming technology to grow the strawberry crop on 32 kanals (4 acres). Mr. Fiaz-ur-Rehman got to know about the project from other framers and showed his keen interest in tunnel farming to grow the strawberries. The experience of growing strawberries through tunnel framing was very new for Mr. Faiz as he never used such techniques before.
According to Faiz Muhmmad, “It was a great experience to grow strawberry with the latest technology. I didn’t grow strawberries before on my land. Though the project only provided support for 1/8th of an acre, with an investment of Rs. 1.35 million. I applied both the technologies i.e., mulch sheet and low-cost walk-in tunnels on 4 acres of land.
He also added that he used bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides in his strawberry fields to reduce the hazardous effect on human health, which are not commonly used by farmers in vegetables and fruit production. He applied Vitriol Blue and Rayan to control fungal diseases and Bio gain for improving the quality of the fruit. The produce was of the best quality, in terms of better size, shape, color and taste which is why Faiz was able to sell his strawberries at a much higher profit than the strawberry produces being sold in Peshawar from other provinces (Punjab).