Regional programme office, chitral effect of rainfall on apricots in chitral region

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Northern Pakistan has been affected by the worst and serious flooding in living memory of the history. As Chitral is also included in Northern part of Pakistan so it is also affected a lot by the natural disaster caused in the form of flash floods and heavy rainfall. Many people in Chitral region become homeless. Usually Chitral does not receive monsoon rain as evidence from the fact that it remains out of monsoon for lying in a portion of dry temperate zone. But this year with the monsoon season some of the clouds that emanated from the Mediterranean Sea, travelled from Baluchistan to Chitral via Afghanistan causing an unexpected rain in the form of calamity. The heavy rain not only affected the routine life of the inhabitants through transforming into flash floods but also give rise to a situation whereby diseases to different crop in the form of pests and insects appeared. The unexpected torrential rains put the life of the people to threat thus diverting their attention from income generating activities to life saving measures. On the other hand due to heavy and continuous rainfall a kind of disease called shot hole disease appeared on apricots and the apricot (fruits) on the trees split into two.

Value addition in apricot sub sector is one of the basic objectives of EC-FF project. For this purpose ToT was organized in Gilgit on apricot dehydration with the help of modern techniques. Six participants two from each thee LSOs were selected and attended the training in Gilgit. According to planning and season of apricot it was decided to start the training from KIDP area. The team just after arrival from Gilgit started delivering training in KIDP area. The training was successful in a sense that clear differences were seen in the shape of dried apricots (traditional & modern), and Pathan traders started offering competitive prices for the produces. During the training in BLSO area the weather started changing and training was interrupted regularly by rain. However, the team managed and imparts training at producer level in small groups at different villages. In the 3rd phase of training cycle when the team reached Mastuj – QASADO and was ready to start training at producer level, heavy rainfall occurred and suddenly changed into flash floods. The team remained blocked there waiting for the clearance of weather as the road was also blocked in different places.

Abrupt changes in temperature due to on going weather conditions (hot & cool) the apricot fruits in the tree before picking split into two half and rain water seep into the fruits thus not only changed the shape but also taste of the fruits. Moreover, the shot hole disease that was developing in the start of the season also expanded rapidly thus making apricots no more suitable for dehydration. Participants from KIDP and BLSO area were pleased with the new techniques, and were expecting reasonable income generation through improved drying techniques but continuous rain has damaged all the fruits of apricot in the region.

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