ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) has established more than 300 clubs in twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad under a programme kitchen and roof top gardening initiative introduced to promote organic agriculture. The clubs include general public, women, army officers, college students and they are getting benefit from this programme as kitchen gardening has a vast potential for addressing food and health of urban and peri-urban Pakistan.

Official sources on Friday said the government has taken some steps to promote organic farming in the country and these included production of organic seasonal vegetables at National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) field, for demonstration and training to stakeholders. The sources said 500 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) personnel have been provided services for promotion of Organic Farming Kitchen gardening in Islamabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).The other step was production of off-season squashes in tunnels at National Agricultural Research Centre for demonstration and training to stakeholders.

Moreover, the sources said Pakistan Agricultural Research Council has also established a Cell on Organic Agriculture and nominated a focal person as well.

When contacted, an agriculture expert Dr Sher Baloch said Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, bio-diversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.

Pakistan Agricultural Research Council on demand of general public had initiated the programme to help citizens of Islamabad and Rawalpindi regions to grow fresh organic vegetables at their household that are healthy and pesticides free.

The citizens can grow vegetables in front, back yard and roof top area of their houses as well as in pots.

Under this program nurseries of various seasonal, off-season and early sowing vegetables are grown at National Agricultural Research Centre farm area for distribution to its club members and other interested groups/individuals. 

The vegetable plants/seedlings are provided to growers on very nominal charges. Some vegetables’ one or two plants are sufficient to meet household requirement of this vegetable during the season.

The obvious advantages associated with household gardening such as pesticide free produce and availability at the doorstep on one side and on the other hand, vegetable and herbs have high nutritional values.

If these are grown, households could be able to get balanced diet which mainly contributes to the healthy society.

Research Officers and field staff are also available with the programme to provide training and services at their household.