Growing hybrid vegetables
By Tahir Ali Khan
May 30, 2011: FARMERS and the private sector have joined
hands to cultivate hybrid vegetables and adopt innovative
growing techniques to raise crop yield in Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa. In Takht Bhai, Mardan, farmers opting for
technique of growing hybrid vegetables, see it as a route to
On a visit to the area, this scribe witnessed lots of
u-shaped stands and scattered open sheds scattered that had
been prepared with sticks and plastic wire, cobbled
together, to support the structure for hanging vegetables.
Taufeeq Ahmad Khan, a local farmer, said the sowing of
imported hybrid of bitter gourd called Karail , and not the
local variety Karaila , was started three years ago.
“Farmers are usually too conservative, often ignorant and
also poor to adopt new technologies and strategies but once
their utility is established, they adopt them quickly.
Seeing financial advantages, more and more farmers are
following suit. The private sector guided us to adopt
high-yielding variety of bitter gourd,” he said.
“It is highly rewarding for farmers as they continue growing
vegetables for around nine months. An acre of imported
hybrid bitter gourd sown this way earns a farmer around
Rs400,000. Besides, vegetable like tomato or fruit like
watermelon can also be sown alongside it on the ridges in
the field. This can fetch them another Rs200,000,” he added.
Gul says local seed of bitter gourd when sown on ridges in
the field usually gets destroyed quickly by excess of water,
heat, drought and diseases. “Besides it can resist adverse
climatic conditions and diseases, being a short duration
crop. The local bitter gourd also has negligible income for
farmers as compared to hybrid bitter gourd.
“ It is also more resistant to diseases and climatic
conditions and the vegetable is comparatively healthier,” he
According to Khan, the method is simple and can be easily
adopted by any one. “As Karail had to be kept above the
ground to save it from degeneration, one has only to bear a
one-time expenditure of around Rs40,000 for building the
structure using sticks and plastic wire. The vegetable hangs
from it which can be collected easily. This structure can be
used for next three to four years if protected. Considering
the advantage of this technology, it is a negligible amount
which farmers can happily spend to increases their incomes a
lot,” he said.
“The second vegetable or fruit grown alongside bitter gourd
is of short duration. It continues its output till winter
when frost decomposes its roots. But if necessary measures
are taken to protect it against chill and moisture, it will
continue yielding even in winter,” he added.
Adoption of these techniques together with guidance on
establishment of market linkages with packaging and
processing industries can benefit the farmers. Growers in
other areas can take advantage of the experiences of their
Farmers say the government and private seed dealers can help
the farmers by providing them with seeds on deferred
Imported hybrid seeds of vegetables are available in the
market but the farmers said if hybrid seeds are developed
locally and provided to them, it would be better. These will
surely be cheaper and easily adaptable to local ecosystem.
If local labour and fields can be used by the multinationals
to prepare new seed varieties, why can`t we do the same
ourselves. The numerous public seed research farms could be
used for developing hybrid seeds for vegetables.
The government and private sectors can reduce dependence on
import of seeds by developing hybrid varieties for
vegetables and fruits themselves. But it will also have to
be disseminated to farmers as soon as possible. For this
purpose` a pro-active strategy will be needed by the
agriculture department to contact farmers at their
The province is gifted with diverse climatic and ecological
zones which is well suited to all types of vegetables and
fruits. About 47,000 hectares produce approximately 0.52
million tons of fruit and 38,000 hectares produce around
0.356 million tons of vegetables.
Courtesy: The DAWN