Unlocking the economic potential of Pishin can alleviate poverty and raise the human development indices in the region
he Pishin district, adjacent to Quetta, has a population of nearly 1.2 million, the third highest in the province according to the latest census data. The district is blessed with numerous opportunities for business. Making full use of these opportunities can strengthen the economy of the country and the province.
Agriculture is one of the main sources of income for most of Pishin’s residents. Apples and grapes orchards head the list in the fruits category. About 15 years ago, the border of villages of Manzakai, Malak-yar and Tora Shah had unending gardens. The lush green fields and gardens were a continuous view for the travelers along this path.
Barshore and Khanozai tehsils are no different. The landscapes in Barshore and apple gardens in Khanozai, some years ago, had no parallel in the country. Export-quality apples and grapes from Pisin have a huge potential in both national and international markets. It may not be out of place to point out here that there are more than five varieties each of these fruits, all with distinct taste.
In addition to grapes and apples, melons and watermelons of commendable quality are exported to other provinces of the country.
Wheat is also grown and after meeting the needs of the farmers taken to the commercial markets. A variety of vegetables are also grown in regular fields as well as 10x10 square feet beds at residential lawns and courtyards.
Livestock breeding and raising is another productive area. The many dairy farms cater to the need for milk in Pishin and Quetta cities as well as their suburbs. Milk is also sent to Qila Saifullah. Processed dairy products (butter, cheese, yogurt etc) are also a reliable source of income. Quality awareness and consciousness among consumers ensures that the products are of a high quality. Adulteration is seldom heard of.
Increasingly, those with resources at their disposal have begun investing in transport-related businesses. Several private companies provide transport services to various metropolitan cities of Pakistan. Because of poor rail services and unaffordable air services, most people prefer travel by road.
Restaurants are also a profitable business here. Even far-off Karachi has many dhabas and restaurants run by the people from Pishin and surrounding areas. More than 90 percent of the economically active people from various areas in Pishin, such as Karbala, Alizai, Huramzai Batazai, Saimzai and Badizai etc, are working in Karachi. Most of them are in restaurant businesses.
Tunnel farming is already practiced in the region. Incentives should be given for farming cherry, pistachio and olive as the climate is favourable.
In the last couple of years, there has been a new trend. People of Pishin and adjacent areas are running Quetta Cafes in major cities like Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Sialkot. Innovative recipes, consistent quality and business acumen have helped these people flourish.
Bostan area of Pishin is host to a CPEC project. This will open new vistas of employment in various industries. Currently, progress on the project is slow.
Pishin is among the top cities in Pakistan in terms of educating its children. This has resulted in a steady stream of civil services inductions. Several senior bureaucrats have belonged to the area.
Over the recent years, the agriculture sector has faced difficult times. Many people have been forced to leave their villages and a quick revival of the sector is not expected. The reasons for the decline of the agriculture sector include water scarcity, traditional farming techniques and lack of government support.
Recent high inflation has aggravated the problems of farmers who are finding it difficult to buy the necessary fertilisers, pesticides and seeds.
At the time of independence, agriculture was the main contributor to the national GDP. Today, the contribution of agriculture has come down to around 19 percent. Four crops: wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane, contribute 5 percent to the GDP. The four crops consume 80 percent of the country’s water. According to some estimations, Pakistan will be a water-scarce country by 2025. According to some experts, the problem is mostly because of poor management.
For sustainable water management, Pishin’s agriculture needs to adopt the latest farming techniques. However, most farmers are not aware of drip irrigation. They still adhere to the flooding technique. The government must pay attention to reviving the agriculture in Pishin by educating the farmers about the new techniques.
Tunnel farming is already practiced in the area. Incentives should be provided for farming cherry, pistachio and olive as the climate is favourable. Because of their high demand, it is easy to meet the cost of production and making a profit.
More importantly, speeding up the development work in Bostan can be a turning point in the industry-deficient province.
Unlocking the economic potential of Pishin can alleviate poverty and raise the human development indices in the region.
The writer tweets DawoodKhanHere and can be reached at dawoodkhan0666gmail.com