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‘Crops in Pots’ – Karachi, Pakistan

Photo of Zahra Ali Husain.

To spread urban farming in Pakistan

By Farhan Anwar
The Express Tribune, Pakistan
October 7, 2013


One such initiative has been undertaken in Karachi by the husband and wife team of Yasir Husain and Zahra Ali. They have called it ‘Crops in Pots’, which Zahra Ali started as a blog in 2008. It has grown into a community of 1,500 members who exchange inspiration, ideas and knowledge about organic urban farming. The basic idea is to connect urban organic gardeners and farmers with the general public and to start a conversation about the importance of heirloom seeds and organic farming in cities and also create green spaces from where people can get free food and fight food insecurity.

They have developed a comprehensive ‘Green School Programme’ in which the focal point is the ‘learning garden’. Prior to this, at Dawood Public School, Zahra designed a Green Curriculum for students of grades 1 to 8 based on concepts of environment and organic gardening.

The scope of work of Crops in Pots has now expanded to include a seed and plant exchange, workshops and training for teachers, students and groups, guerrilla gardening and participating in environmental festivals such as Hamara Mahol. Crops in Pots is now in the process of making a small seed bank from organic heirloom vegetables and herb plants. An added benefit is that compost can be produced from household organic solid waste, thus reducing the amount of garbage that needs to be thrown away.

Green spaces or the vegetation cover in Karachi are already limited. According to the findings of a recent study funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – Comprehensive Plan for Forestation, Aesthetic Plantation and Landscaping for Karachi, 2008 – the total vegetation cover in Karachi as estimated through satellite images is 62,643 acres which works out as 7% of the total land area of 907,001 acres. A greater cause for alarm is however, the rate at which these already minimal green spaces are disappearing. Can urban farming not provide an answer to improving this sorry state of affairs? It is something that can even be developed as a ‘citizens’ movement’. Crops in Pots has made a beginning. Let’s hope that this will be a beginning for a citywide citizens’ movement to make this city a green and healthy one.

Read the complete article here.

See Crops in Pots here.