Photo: Jamil Akhtar/UNDP Pakistan

 

The Hindu Kush-Karakoram and Himalayan mountain region in Gilgit-Baltistan is faced with diminishing livelihood opportunities due to over exploitation of existing resources and changing climate patterns. Dwindling natural resources in the form of grazing lands for livestock, water for agriculture, glaciers for sustained water flow, wildlife, and scenery for tourism, are losing potential as viable sources to support local livelihoods. The need for alternative sources of livelihood, not just as a means to support the local inhabitants, but also reduce pressure on existing natural resources, has become inevitable.

To tackle this situation, women hailing from the rigid mountainous areas of Gilgit-Baltistan created an alternate livelihood generation option through growing high value, climate resilient vegetable crops in green houses, under the UNDP based Italian Government funded project on Mountain Protected Areas.

 

Photo: Jamil Akhtar/UNDP Pakistan

 

Given prolonged winters and short growing seasons in the region, these green houses in the form of plastic tunnels, provide a cheap, easily operable and environment friendly option for growing vegetables in the off-season. At present, 34 vegetable green houses are being operated by more than 260 women who support their households through additional income from the sale of vegetable and vegetable seedlings.

The added advantage of these off-season vegetable tunnels is that these are located at the doorstep and require little water to be irrigated. Vegetables like tomatoes, chillies, cabbages etc, grown in off-season fetch higher prices in the local market. These women entrepreneurs sell seedlings and vegetables to other women folk who then can use the seedlings for kitchen gardening. The average income generated from a single vegetable tunnel ranges from PKR 50,000 to 60,000 per year. 

 

Story by Arish Naseem, Research and Reporting Officer, ECCU, UNDP Pakistan

 

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