PESHAWAR          -           Residents of Bara sub-division in Khyber tribal district

have cultivated strawberry fruit for the first time in the area’s history, officials and local residents told The Nation.The residents of Bara suffered losses in terms of businesses and crops when the military launched an operation to wipe out militants from the area in September

2009. The project of strawberry cultivation has been launched with the collaboration of Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP).Khyber district Deputy Commissioner Mahmood

Aslam Wazir told The Nation that previously

many used to cultivate poppy crop in the tribal

district. “We encourage fruits and vegetables, particularly the newly grown fruit strawberry, because they are better alternative to the locals compared to poppy, which is already banned,” he added. SRSP economic growth officer in Khyber district, Zalan Khan, told this correspondent that the project was meant to boost the income of farmers and also they intend to expand it to other areas as well.“There is a committee, which selected five farmers initially and SRSP provided all support and seeds to them,” he said. He said that the project started in October when the fruit was cultivated and it will continue till May in the area.Abdul Majeed, a farmer, said that he had cultivated strawberries on a two-kanal piece of land. “This fruit can general more income while occupying comparatively

smaller tract of lands, when compared to other produce,” he added.Another farmer said that the farmers can better earn if more and more area is brought under strawberry

cultivation. He said the farmers also face loss when some people steal the fruit from the field