The main strength of the economy of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) depends largely on dry fruits and agriculture and is famous for its almond, apricot, cherry and other dry fruits production in the world, But, the most popular fruit of Gilgit Baltistan is almond; a huge variety of almond is found in all districts of GB.
Each type has its own specific characteristics. Gilgit Baltistan produces about 120650 tons of almonds per year. Farmers of GB could earn billions of rupees through almonds export.
The fresh and dried almond in Gilgit Baltistan is famous for its rich taste and organic nature. The pollution free environment and abundant water resources make it ideally suitable for natural growth of fruits and vegetables.
The people in the region have highest life expectancy in Pakistan due to the healthy eating of organic and fresh fruits like almond, and having ideal natural environment.
During the months of March, April and May the valley is full of flowers and panoramic view. The view of Gilgit from Jutial in spring is incredible, though it remains spectacular at any time of the year.
Almonds get ready in the month of August and then dried in sun before they are sent to the markets across the country. Tons of almonds transported between Gilgit and other parts of the country by road, take several hours to reach the destination.
Due to the long and difficult road journey fruits worth billions of rupees are destroyed and cannot be dispatched to various markets of the country.
Muhammad Alam the trader of almonds from Gilgit to other parts of country said that “The business community of the area believes that as the aviation industry has become advanced globally, the government should invest in modern facilities so that the issue of flight cancellations can be overcome.
“Gilgit Baltistan could be a business hub between Pakistan and China in the wake of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and can be used as a gateway between both the countries, in this scenario people of GB could get huge benefits by exporting its finest quality of almonds and other dry fruits to china, he added.
Muhammad further said that, “Flights at least twice a week between Gilgit and the Xingjian province of China along with an air cargo facility would not only promote Pakistan-China trade but would also provide access to new markets.
The main strength of the economy of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) depends largely on dry fruits and agriculture, but lack of interest of public sector organizations towards this paradise from where farmers of GB could earn billions of rupees through almond exports has remained neglected. What is needed is establishment of proper infrastructure there.
People of GB have more opportunities in the agriculture sector and organic farming. Climate and abundant water resources make it ideally suitable for marvellous growth of this sector in Gilgit Baltistan, where immense potential is yet to be exploited.
Akramullah who is incharge of fruits nurseries in District Gilgit, while talking to APP said that “Prospects for foreign investment are equally high in almond and the investors could launch ventures in this sector.
“Japan has agreed to provide around Rs 437 million in aid for promoting manufacture of value added fruit products in Gilgit-Baltistan, he added.
From Gilgit Baltistan (GB), the nearest large city is Rawalpindi/Islamabad and the road distance is nearly 600 kms. Under these conditions one of the options available is to process the fruit at location to increase its shelf life and to add to its value, so that it may be transported economically.
Lack of facilities, such as non-availability of export quality packaging material, quality control for grading and facilities for washing and disinfection also needed to be developed.
The development of roads and infrastructure in Gilgit-Baltistan is also on the cards as investors are keen to invest in construction of all weather airports in Gilgit and Skardu. Investment in Gilgit-Baltistan would not only be beneficial for that particular area but it would also help strengthenn the economy of the country.