ISLAMABAD, March 27: The Kachnar trees found abundantly all around the federal capital not only add to the beauty of the area in spring season, but their buds are also a local delicacy and a source of income for the villagers and the daily wagers for few weeks.
Kachnar is a local name in the sub-continent for a variety of medium size trees of Bauhinia plant family.
The botanical name of Kachnar is bauhinia and some four varieties of the species are found in the region.
The most common types of the trees found in Islamabad are the ones with light violet flowers and the others with complete white flowers resembling orchid flowers that blossom in FebruaryMarch.
However, there is hardly any difference between the varieties when the cooked young buds are eaten.
These buds are tasty when cooked either with potatoes or minced meat, said a housewife Binte Zehra, who resides near Chak Shazad area. My children play around Kachnar trees and of ten collect sizeable quantity of buds that we cook, she added.
But, it is not child play for everybody to collect the buds as hundreds of local children, residents of villages around Islamabad and low-income localities in the city are seen struggling to get the Kachnar flowers for their kitchen needs.
We eat this flower daily and I collect one plastic bag from these trees present on the green belt, said a young resident of katchiabadi behind Zero Point. He collects Kachnar buds from trees around the area.
Apart from a source of food, the Katchnar blooming season also provides an excellent opportunity to the youngsters and some daily wager labourers to earn something from the local harvest.
Many such men can be seen colleting the buds in Sector F6, mainly around the Super market, while the retailers bag up to Rs80 per kg from the Kachnar buds and those who collect the harvest get something between Rs30 and Rs40 per kg.
However, there is no uni form price in the twin cities; average rate of Kachnar buds in Rawalpindi is Rs40 per kg, but it is more costly in uppermiddle class localities of the two cities because of high demand.
Kachnar buds cost between Rs60 and Rs80 per kg in Commercial Market, Aabpara and G-10 and the retailers there have their own reasons for the high rates.
This is very costly at the wholesale fruit and vegetable market due to high demand, said a retailer at G-10 Markaz, adding that the buds are bought to Islamabad city from far-flung villages as the local produce does not have a good quality mainly due to pollution in the city.
However, it is cheap, even less than Rs50 per kg, in Super market as the customers here do not seem to have much liking for Kachnar.
Having so many benefits, there is a need to promote planting Kachnar tree as it would also help reduce allergy problems in the future and provide fodder for their dairy cattle apart from beautifying the driveways and providing short-term economic value to the locals