Agriculture Park In Wana A Boon To Business In The Tribal Districts And The Broader Region
The newly constructed Agriculture park in Wana, the regional headquarters of South Waziristan, is now functional. The park will play an important role to boost agricultural business after peace returned to South Waziristan. The park has been envisaged as a socioeconomic uplift programme for the tribal districts of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province. Aside from facilitating locals, it is also hoped that it would open links via a central corridor with Afghanistan and neighboring countries.
Alam Khan Mahsud, 25, is the owner of a vegetable shop in the local market in Wana. After a hectic day of work, he goes back to Tank to sleep – approximately 60km away, from where he brings fresh vegetables for his shop. The long process is not just tiring, Mahsud explains: it is also reflected in the price he must charge for the produce.
With this project functional, local shopkeepers hope to find a way to obtain fresh vegetables on a daily basis at their doorsteps. Mahsud hopes, “Opening such project will help us to bring fresh vegetables in less time – and most important, the produce will be provided to all on government rates.”
The park is one of its kind in the region. It contains a market complex, five warehouses, a bank, a hotel, a pine nut plant, hawker sheds, facilities for cold storage and other structures. The mega project will host 50 kinds of business in which 703 people will get direct employment while 1,038 people will be facilitated as labour from the local populace.
Mujeeb Ur Rehman, 45, is a contractor in the agriculture park at Wana. He elaborates upon the project and calls it the new phase of Waziristan’s development. “This is one of the best projects for the rehabilitation of locals as the area was subjected to war and terror for the last decade.” He emphasizes that it will help locals to stand on their own feet after intense operations against terrorism brought life to a standstill for years. “We have some of the best pine nuts and fruits here. This project will be a hub for agricultural business, which will benefit the country’s economy.” He recommends that the government launch such projects in other parts of the tribal districts too.
The region contributes some 29 % (11, 372 tons) of Pakistan’s total vegetable production. It represents 73 % of the bitter gourd (karela) production, 40% of aubergines/eggplants (bengan or brinjal), 33% of tomatoes and 21% of okra or Lady Fingers. The region also contributes 71 % (70,043 tons) of Pakistan’s fruit production, in which the production of apple is 92%, almonds 82%, peaches 40 % and grapes at 37% of total production.
“This project will also increase the beauty of Waziristan”, says Muhammad Gulab Wazir, a local elder of South Waziristan. “This project is ray of hope for local production in the agriculture sector along with local pine nut production.” Before this, the region did not have much in the way of systematic agricultural busines, but the park is expected to ramp up activity in that sector, Wazir hopes.
The security situation in KP and newly merged tribal districts (formerly FATA) had registered improvements in 2018, and along 70 per cent reduction in number of terrorist incidents. As a result of the improved security situation climate for the investment of international businessman had also shown improvement.
Gul Mar Khan, 35, is a truck driver. He brought in a truck loaded with pine nuts from Afghanistan. He considers the project a form of facilitation for truck drivers across the borders. He says: “Such a park for agriculture only a few hours way from Angoor Adda in the south along with Ghulam Khan terminal in north (Pak-Afghan border) is not only good for drivers coming across from Afghanistan but also a wave of relief and attraction for business of two neighboring countries Afghanistan and Pakistan. Previously, we had to take these pine nuts to the other parts of Pakistan which doubled the cost and added to the depreciation of the value of trucks due to wear and tear from a longer route.”
This year has been better thanks to the agriculture park. “Previously I took these pine nuts all the way to Peshawar and the profit was 3,000 to 3,500 US dollars per month. But this year the ratio increased to 6,500 US dollars of profit and it’s all due to the agriculture park in Wana,” Khan says.