Agriculture sector is the backbone of Pakistan 's economy employing 44 % of the work force. Nature has blessed Pakistan with an ideal climate for growing a large variety of vegetables and fruits. Agricultural sector is directly or indirectly contributing 25% towards GDP. According to Agriculture Department, 30% of vegetables/fruits are wasted due to negligence and lack of processing facilities, which could convert them into non-perishable form, permitting its transportation and storage without wastage. With the spread of education, change in habits of populace, growth in working women force and increase in per capita income & urbanization, the
demand for processed vegetable/fruit products is increasing progressively. Tomato is a rich source of vitamin A & C and is cultivated over vast area of land in the world. It has its origin from Themistition, city of Mexico where it was named as Tomatile. Then its cultivation was started in Central America and subsequently shifted to Europe . In Indo-Pak sub continent, its utility is growing year by year resulting into more cultivation. It is popular due to its color, taste & food value. Tomato has long been processed into Ketchup in Italy , Turkey , Greece , USA and
European countries. It is used in large quantity at household and restaurants in the shape of tomato juice, tomato puree and paste. These products are also gaining popularity in Pakistan . Like Tomato, fruits are delicious in taste and are abundantly available in their respective ripe seasons and are also a source of vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates. Fruits like Mango, Guava, Apricot, Strawberry, etc. are processed into pulp, paste, juices, squashes and jam. These products are used as part of food item by the people all over the world.
Vegetables are rich source of vitamins, carbohydrates, salts and proteins. With increased health awareness in the general public and changing dietary patterns, vegetables are now becoming an integral part of average household's daily meals. In addition, high population growth rate has also given rise to high demand in basic dietary vegetables. Increased health awareness, high population growth rate, changing dietary patterns of increasingly affluent middle class and availability of packaged vegetables, has therefore generated a year round high demand for vegetables in the country in general and in major city centers in particular. However, our farmers have yet not been able to encash this opportunity and still follow traditional sowing and picking patterns. This results in highly volatile vegetable supply market wherein the market is flooded with seasonal vegetables irrespective of demand presence on one hand and very high priced vegetables in off-season on the other. Lack of developed vegetable processing and storage facility robs our farmers from their due share of profit margins. In natural season local vegetables flood the markets substantially bringing down the prices.
In the absence of storage infrastructure and vegetable processing industry in the country, off-season vegetables farming is the only viable option that can add value to the farmer produce. The term plasticulture is used to describe the broad and general use of plastics in agriculture. Plasticulture can extend the growing season and improve crop health and growth.