Remember your frequent travel routes anywhere in Pakistan, the nostalgic picture you will get won’t be without imagination of beautiful landscapes containing fields of different colours, green, golden or yellow, depends on the season. Still, in this industrialized world, we have to keep in mind that Pakistan has an agriculture based economy.

Once my Iranian colleague with passionate eyes said to me, “if only we (Iran) could have this amount of land, these kind of seasons; Pakistan is truly green my friend, you guys just have to realize how blessed you are”. That sweet little punch by my friend gave me reality check which I don’t want to forget ever again.

The accelerated urbanization in last two decades has set us apart from our original roots. The gap between life styles of urban and rural population is wider than ever now. New generation feels aloof from village and villagers. Modern universities across the country celebrate “Paindu” (Villager) day giving an odd impression as all villagers are alien. Pardon me for being conservative, I don’t want to spoil anybody’s party but this situation seems alarming.

These cosmopolitans are not even a century old. We all are migrants; descendents of our forefathers who left their homelands in search of better life in cities. For comparative analysis, take a tour of Lahore or Karachi, you can find development in bits and pieces but on a whole it seems a mess. So, mission is not accomplished yet. Our so called intellectual elite living so called luxurious life are so busy in maintaining the status quo that they have forgotten that their original mission was to create the balance among the cities and villages.

The promise on which they left their land was to protect it, flourish it, but somewhere down the road Industries captured their attention, and later corporations hypnotized them.

Over the last 67 years since the independence of Pakistan, the policy-makers have not been able to develop a satisfactory policy for the basic necessity of its people – food. With so much of productive agriculture land, the lower middle class do not have luxury of buying vegetables on subsided rates. You always find them lamenting over price hikes of vegetables. This situation is enough to analyse that government lacks substantial administrative capability, due to which our agriculture is in continues doldrums.

On a collective level, the situation seems bleak but on an Individual level, I recently managed to come across a very strange but hopeful example set by a student regarding awareness of agriculture in our daily lives. Hamza Shaukat, a student of Economics and Law, belongs to Raza Gardens, Faisalabad. Almost a year ago, he succeeded in turning some residential land into a productive source of in house vegetable production. His idea worked and many others in the neighborhood replicated the theme. According to the residents of Raza Garden, soon they will be self sufficient in producing their own vegetables and some of fruits as well. I hardly expected this kind of humane approach from a place where ministers and industrialists live, but as they say, an idea never die… Let’s hear the remaining story from Hamza !

You belong to posh residential area, you study in an elite school. How did you come up with this idea?

I may belong to posh area, I may go to elite school, but fortunately my upbringing helped me to think out of these complexes. I am proud of the fact that we originally belong to a village. Though my father is a lawyer, but our major source of income is our land. Since childhood, I visit my village frequently but unfortunately due to studies I never had an opportunity to work as a farmer. Fascinated by the wonders of the land, I always tried to learn the basic prerequisite of becoming a farmer. Where there is a will, there is a way; coincidently there were some residential plots in front of my home, owner bought them for I don’t know what reasons, but for last many years, they were free and almost useless. Land was in front, passion was in heart, I started ploughing the fields.

Isn’t it illegal to plough someone’s Land?

As I told you, I am son of a lawyer, and there is nothing illegal for me! Well, jokes a part, I went to the owner and said I want to grow vegetables on your land until you construct something on it. He readily agreed, and it is not illegal now.

So, can we call you an agriculturist entrepreneur?

Please, don’t call me that, I have no plans of turning this initiative into a business. There was a time when only I use to grow vegetables in the whole town, so when I use to visit anybody’s home, instead of buying a cake full of calories, I gifted them fresh vegetables, my idea was unique and healthy and it became an instant hit. Soon other kids and even some adults started to do the same, and that was the moment I felt pride. On the contrary, an entrepreneur is too meagre to share his ideas. This effort is for love of land, no commercial involvement.

Love of the land sound ancient and primitive, in the world of facebook, don’t you think your idea is unattractive?

Unfortunately, the present generations are not aware of the real attractions. Pakistan’s economy depends largely on agriculture and urban youth repels on the name of agriculture. For our forefathers, land was like their mother, and this phenomenon is too deep and romantic. Land nourishes whole humanity as mother nourishes her child, those who know dynamics of land can have better understanding of life.

How far you think you can go with this initiative?

This is not an initiative, this is a forgotten reality in urban Pakistan, idea was always there, I am only trying to spread it. I never imagined what I have achieved, though this is only the first step and journey is too long.

My activities regarding farming were too attractive for young kids. Initially they watched, observed and then started helping me. All the parents of the town appreciated me and they were enthralled by the fact that their kids are in safe hands and learning something. In Pakistan, unfortunately it would be too naïve to depend on government. As Shehzad Roy says, “Ab khud Kux Karna Pade ga” (we have to take self-initiatives).

What changes you have brought to your town with your initiative?

Raza Gardens is like a small village now, kids plough field, grow fruit, and in evening we hold gatherings in our community club. Parents proudly tell their adventurous stories, and kids listen with utmost interest. I don’t know I can change the world, but I have certainly changed my part of the world.

What’s next from Hamza, any message you want to give to our readers?

Well, very soon I am bringing a cow from my village so I could turn attention of those who spend all their times watching unreal animals in shape of cartoons. Though I am not any leader, but kids listen to me in my town. Instead of bragging about their new cell phones, I want them to brag about some real manly stuff, like washing a cow, milking a cow, and you never know, may be horses after a cow.

I don’t want to say anything to government because I know they never listen but yes I want to plead in front of parents that only they could breed love of the land in their children’s mind. They must make them feel proud on our culture and they must introduce them with love of the Land. To farmers of my nation, I want to say that, you guys are the real super heroes. You feed us and provide us with most basic necessity of life, food. To youngsters of my age, only we can turn the cities into the villages, and villages into the cities.