Plant the miracle Moringa tree for 1 million jobs, 25 million trees and Rs. 126 million revenue
Pakistan is an agricultural country. It has the distinction of having the largest contiguous gravity flow irrigation system in the world – consisting of three reservoirs (Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma), 19 barrages, 12 huge inter-link canals, 59,200km of irrigation canals and over 1.6 million kilometres of water courses. This irrigation system serves as a lifeline for sustainable agriculture in this part of the world that is characterized with arid to semi-arid climate. The irrigated lands contribute more than 90 percent of agriculture produce and the agricultural sector accounts for 22 percent of GDP and employs 54 percent of the country’s labour force.
Punjab, being the bread basket, fulfils most of the country’s needs of food grain, and also provides for other sources of raw materials required by major domestic industries, particularly cotton, which account for 80 percent of the value of Pakistan’s exports. In Punjab only, we have 7 zones of the irrigation system, 450 perennial canals and 374 non-perennial canals with a total length of 23,184 miles. Along the canals, planting the Moringa oleifera, commonly known as ‘Drumstick tree’ or ‘Horseradish tree’ (‘Sohanjna, Sahajna or Munaga’ in Urdu) can be highly beneficial.
- Plantation of 25 million trees without artificial watering system, and at zero governmental cost.
- More than one million jobs will be created through this project.
- Overall, reduction of 4 to 10 degrees Celsius will take place in Punjab.
- Punjab would be able to export its 21-25 percent fruit to international market.
- Punjab will also be able to produce vegetables for the whole country.
- After five years, this project will cause rain every 45 days, on average.
- Almost 100,000 picnic spots/ Barbecue (BBQ) points will be created.
- More than 3 million families will get engaged in this project.
- Revenue of more than Rs. 126 million will be generated through this project.
- This project would help reduce air pollution by up to 50 percent.
- If we suggest planting Moringa oleifera trees (Moringa contains significant amounts of vitamin A, C, and E; calcium; potassium; and protein. It also contains antioxidants called flavonoids, polyphenols, and ascorbic acid in its leaves, flowers and seeds), it would help our pharmaceutical industry also.
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We have 1,280,000 km canal banks where we can plant fruit trees – Moringa and other eco-friendly trees. Irrigation department has 30-50 feet average land (right of way) along the canals which is uncultivated. In addition, Irrigation and Forestry departments own thousands of acres of land. We can divide it into more than one million patches in running feet and square feet.
Government should announce a “Youth Empowerment Scheme” through The Bank of Punjab (BoP). The initial procedure should be managed by the bank and application fee should be Rs. 1000 per person (non-refundable). In addition, each leaseholder will have to pay a minimum of Rs. 5000 per patch, as lease charges annually to the government. Leaseholders will be instructed by the concerned authorities to plant fruit trees or Moringa trees at a distance of 18-20 feet from each other and in this distance, they can grow seeds and veggies whose profits will go to them. Related government departments will monitor this project.
Moringa oleifera is indigenous to Pakistan and is fairly widespread throughout the plains of the Punjab. It is also found in the foothills of the Himalayas and other mountain ranges in the west and north of the country.
Like all members of the Moringa genus, the indigenous variety, Moringa oleifera is a very fast growing tree which reaches an average height of 10 to 12 metres and, again as with all of this genus, every single part of what is now hailed as a ‘Miracle tree’, has either edible or medicinal uses or both. Incredibly drought-tolerant, this species deserves to be more widely grown in Pakistan and where, if given the respect it deserves, it could be extremely beneficial to the population as a whole.