The farmers of the Northern Areas of Pakistan produce a variety of fruits: apricots, apples, cherries, graps, mulberries, oranges, peaches, and plums. The pure highland environment of the Karakorum and Himalayan Mountains, where fruit trees are irrigated by pure glacial meltwater creates wonderful produce. Rightly so, the Hunza apricot is known the world over for its bright and tangy flavour. The kernel of the apricots, hidden deep inside the stone, are also a nutty treasure.
Due to seasonal gluts in production and poor roads much of this output is wasted and rots before it can be consumed or sold. Communities are poor, living in harsh conditions with summer temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celcius and winter temperatures dropping below -10 degrees Celsius. Farming in these extremely arid conditions is made possible only with forced irrigation.
Mountain Fruits is a Pakistani Fairtrade dried fruit and nut company which trains the Northern farmers of Pakistan in solar drying fresh fruits and processing nuts. and also provides markets for the produce. The production methods used to create fruits of international marketable standards. Mountain Fruits also train farmers in improved agricultural and organic techniques that make increased production possible on the scarce land resources available to farmers.
Mountain Fruits apricots, peaches, plums are all Fairtrade certified so that in addition to farmers receiving a guaranteed Fairtrade minimum price, the communities also enjoy a social premium over and above the product price. Farmers have an annual vote on the premium usage. Recent community benefits have been the provision of materials and books to schools, irrigation upgrades, a new playground, water tanks, a generator, sewing machines, and school fees for the poorest students.
Tropical Wholefoods is an important partner for Mountain Fruits buying more than 60 tonnes of apricots a year as well as smaller quantities of peaches and apples. We also assist with training on how to organise systems for product handling, quality assurance and export controls.
Mountain Fruits wish to add further value to the farmers' natural resources. Tropical Wholefoods is actively seeking funding for Mountain Fruits to take this work further.
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