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    December 29, 2016


People of Mastuj get solar dehydration plants for preservation of fruits

By Zahiruddin

CHITRAL: The people of Mastuj town got solar powered dehydration plant for preservation of the superfluous fresh fruits in bulk quantity thereby increasing the income of the farmers and alleviate poverty. While talking to the media visiting the town, the chairman of Qarambar and Shandur Area Development Organization (QASADO), Syed Saadat Jan said that for want of dehydration facility, technical guidance, packaging and marketing, more than sixty percent of fresh fruit of apricot, white mulberry, wild cherry pear and apples wasted in Chitral as the extra quantity was fed to the animals.

He said that the project was launched with the financial assistance of Small Grant and Ambassador’s Fund Program (SGAFP) of USAID under which fifty four plants were provided in different localities of the area and the women folk were imparted extensive training on different processes of fruit preservation ranging from harvesting to dehydration and packaging.

Mr. Jan said that Mastuj town is known for its fabulous product of apricot, white mulberry, pear and apples and QASADO acted to cash in the fruit by its preservation and value addition and engagement of  women in the process was yet another feature of the project for whom the services of food technologists and agriculturists had been hired.

He said that the fruits dried in customary way by exposing to direct sunlight lose their pleasant charm, taste and brittleness and such commodity finds no place in the market.

Nusrat Jabeen, one of the trainees, told the media that she used to feed a large amount of apricots and apples in her orchards to her cows in the past but this year, she preserved hundred percent of it with the help of the dehydration plant.

She said that women from every household were imparted training on processing of the fruits and operation of the plant and they were also trained on how to ensure hygienic condition throughout the process.

“The fruit processing on modern lines will lead to empowerment of women folk financially as raising fruit orchards and cultivation of vegetables is considered the sole domain of women folk in Chitral”, she said and added that in Chitral, the women have been playing their traditional role in household management.

She said that the women folk engaged in the field of business of the dried fruits and handicrafts have been grouped as ‘Shandur Businesswomen Association Mastuj’ which is promoting the entrepreneurship skills of the women.

The village nazim of Khoozh village council, Noor Ajam said that as per their survey conducted last year, it revealed that only a fraction of one percent of the surveyed households dried the superfluous amount of the fresh fruit and there was no marketing facility available in the area to sell the fruits in fresh form.

He said that connection of the farmers and growers with the local and national market was yet another outcome of the project which ensured that the produce of the farmers will be purchased in the village promising a great dividend by doing with the local purchasers who subjected them to exploitation.

Mr. Ajam said that the number of plants sufficed the households of the area as observed this year while nut cracker machine on each mohalla level have been provided as the village was abound of walnut trees.


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