Returnees demand govt help to restart farming in Bara.

KHYBER -- Hundredsof families returned to upper parts of Bara have demanded revival of agricultural activities in their region as they were highly dependent on agricultural products in the absence of any other sources of income.

Farmers and local elders in Sheikh Mali Baba, Landikhel, Sandana, Speen Drand and surrounding areas told Dawn that thousands of acres of their cultivable lands needed immediate levelling and deep ploughing for being unutilised in over a decade due to the migration of population due to militancy and military operations.

Local elder Malik Waak Khan said the only hope for the families, which returned to the area, was the immediate revival of agricultural activities as they had no other sources of livelihood. He said cultivable lands hadn't been utilised for 10 years, so they had become barren with wild grass and other unproductive plants being everywhere.

'The land requires immediate deep ploughing and levelling by tractors and other modern tools to prepare for cultivation,' he said.

Say irrigation system in bad shape, tools, fertilisers needed

Grower Haji Gulab Khan said majority of the returnees were too poor to rebuild homes and cultivate their barren lands.

He said though the government had provided such people with tractors, they had little time to grow wheat as large swaths of lands required rehabilitation.

'We will benefit from timely government assistance if the cultivable land lying on both sides of the Bara River is revitalised. We need quality seeds, fertilisers and equipment to make good use of the available lands in order to address food shortages and market their produce,' he said.

The region was infamous for poppy cultivation before the rise of militancy as the crop was the main source of earning for almost all families in Tirah valley and upper parts of Bara.

The growers said the irrigation system, which was built prior...

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