Syed Nadeem Shah, a modern farm owner, says mustard crop can help reduce country’s import bill
Sees better prospects in organic vegetables
PAKISTAN & GULF ECONOMIST team visited a progressive farm owned by Syed Nadeem Shah in Matiari District near Hyderabad Sindh, Pakistan. Syed Nadeem Shah is Vice President of Sindh Abadgar Board. He is a farmer by profession. He did his BSC (Honours), MBA and DBS. He has been looking after his agricultural farms for last 45 years. He is also a member on several boards and committees of the government, President Cancer Patient Welfare Society, etc.
Syed Nadeem Shah inherited the farm from his father. His father initiated progressive farming and Syed Nadeem Shah extended it with modern and state-of-the-art methods. The farm covers one hundred acres. Mangoes are grown on 30 acres, bananas on 10 acres and rest of the land is used for other crops and vegetables such as sugarcane, cotton, wheat, onions etc.
Traders come to his farm and purchase his farm mangoes for export since he adopts global agricultural standards. Grading and sorting of the fruits is done at his farm. He has got trained workforce to meet global standards of quality. Wheat of his farm is purchased by the traders who subsequently export it to Russia at times. Onions of his farm are also exported in the wake of marvelous quality of crop. He himself is not involved in export, however, his produce is exported by the traders. He agreed with the fact that outdated methods of agriculture are still in vogue in Pakistan, however, there are plenty of farmers who have adopted modern methods of agriculture. He himself has set up seed germination and seed processing plants. The government sometimes does help the farmers, however, it is the farmer who has to do all the things on his own without the help of the government.
Syed Nadeem Shahuses farm yard manure, which is organic and is very vital for the strength of the fertile land. The farm yard manure is easily available and is far less costly than the chemical fertilizer. Around 90% cost of fertilizer is saved by using farm yard manure.
Syed Nadeem Shah gave details about the banana crop. There are two different types of methods to produce banana based on the size. Once the banana crop is sowed, the first crop of banana gets ready in 18 months. Bananas of his farm are bought by the traders and sold in various cities of Pakistan and are exported to Afghanistan and Iran. Some of his friends brought G9 variety of banana from Cuba and Costa Rica which he planted. The quality of this variety of banana is spectacular, however, it is somewhat a laborious task. This variety is lucrative for the farmers. He planted this variety on three acres a couple of years ago, however, prior to that he used to plant some other varieties.
Syed Nadeem Shah has developed an area with nets to raise nurseries of chilies, onions etc. He conducts experiments with different seeds in his state of the art seed nursery. His experiments in the controlled atmosphere have been quite successful.
Syed Nadeem Shah got saplings of date palm tree from Dubai and Abu Dhabi so that Ajwa, Amber and other varieties of dates could be produced in Pakistan. Currently he is doing it on a trial basis. If it is a breakthrough, such varieties would be sown at large scale. He planted one hundred saplings five years ago. Some of the saplings could not survive the weather and climatic conditions, however, the rest have endured the ordeals for last five years. These date palm trees have started yielding fruit this year and there is a likelihood for a tremendous result next year.
Wheat is the staple food in Pakistan unlike rice, corn etc. in many other parts of the world. Syed Nadeem Shah grows TD1 variety of wheat at his progressive farm. This variety of wheat is pretty popular in Sindh covering over 70% area of wheat crop. Being a lucrative crop, this variety is popular among the farmers. The farmers are expecting bumper wheat crop this year and it is expected that the government would handle it prudently unlike the erstwhile year. He grows wheat over the area of 30 acres. Wheat crop has to some extent become unviable in the wake of rising input cost. The support price of wheat is Rs1365/- whereas the input cost has soared by 40%, which is the cause of anguish for the farming community.
Syed Nadeem Shah grows organic spinach, coriander, eggplant, mint, okra, zucchini, pumpkin etc. using farm yard manure. There is less consumer for organic vegetables at present, however, there are expectations for better prospects in future. The entire world is running after the organic food, which is relatively expensive. He has been growing organic vegetable for last two years on a trial basis to check the market for future prospects. The buyers of organic vegetables are those who are both health conscious and have purchasing power. The prices of organic vegetables are ten times higher which makes it tough for the ordinary people.
Syed Nadeem Shah gave briefing about the rose production at his farm. The more sizzling the climate, the less the production of the roses. He grows marvelous quantity of roses which is sent to Hyderabad and Karachi. The buyers buy roses from him for meagre Rs30/- per kilo whereas the same is sold up to Rs800/- per kilo in the market. He suggested investment for the process of roses which could bring stunning results for the investors and the farmers alike.
Syed Nadeem Shah talked about the importance and production of guava. Guava is considered one of the best crops of Hyderabad region. Guava is a winter fruit. Though guava is grown in summer as well, however, the guava produced in winter in scrumptious. Guava trees take five to seven years in order to yield fruit. Guava fruit is not as lucrative as mango and banana, however, it is grown for various reasons.
Syed Nadeem Shah gave briefing about the mustard, which is grown as an oilseed crop in Pakistan. He grows mustard and emphasized that the government should encourage the production of this crop to reduce import bill and benefit the economy. Pakistan spends $2 billion dollars for the import of edible oil. By supporting mustard, import bill could be reduced.
In the end, he briefed about the lemon crop of his farm. Lemons are exported to Iran and Afghanistan. Nowadays, there is a new variety of seedless lemon which is quite popular.