Punjab farmers urged to transition to horticulture, grow more fruit

At the state-level Kinnow festival organised in Abohar on Tuesday, horticulture department officials urged farmers to increase area under horticulture and area under fruits in particular.

As of now, only 4.84 per cent of the total cultivation area in the state is under horticulture. However, despite that, production out of this area is 12.54 per cent of the total output.

Shailender Kaur, director, horticulture, Punjab, said, “Area under horticulture has great scope and the productivity is proof. This will also take farmers towards diversification after leaving the wheat-paddy cycle.”

At the festival, a total of 4,300 entries were registered by farmers to display varieties of citrus fruits. “Kinnow has been declared as the ‘brand fruit’ of Punjab in this festival as we are identified by this fruit in Punjab. As of now, the area under horticulture is 3.81 lakh hectare and out of this 90,000 hectare is under fruits. Moreover, 57,000 hectare is covered by kinnow cultivation only. In other words, of the total area under fruits in Punjab, 66 per cent is under citrus fruits and out of this 92 per cent is under kinnow only. Hence we are calling kinnow the ‘brand fruit’ of Punjab,” Kaur added.

Other citrus varieties like lime, grapefruit, malta, lemon, daisy tangerine, sweet orange, mandarin varieties were also displayed at the festival.

Kinnow is the main citrus fruit being grown by farmers looking at commercial benefits while many other citrus varieties like ‘Mitha’, which has quinine and is beneficial for people with malaria and dengue fever, grape fruit and malta are lesser known varieties, though they have more health benefits as compared to the kinnow.

Kaur said, “We have planned to gift plants to people this year so that they can grow a fruit tree at home for self-consumption. But in the market, the farmer thinks more about the marketing factor, it is easy for them to market kinnow and hence it is the most popular citrus fruit.”

Ajayvir Jakhar, chairman of the Farmer Commission Punjab, said, “Farmers need to focus on marketing, grading and processing of kinnows too. This will increase profitability of the farmers. Area under fruits should also be increased.”

Vishavjeet Khanna, additional principal secretary, Punjab, said, “Farmers need to get out of the wheat-paddy cycle and must focus on fruit orchards.”

Experts indicated that 90,000 hectares, the total cultivation area under fruits, is very less and hence this section has great potential. In the past 10 years, the area under horticulture has increased by 48 per cent while output of crop has increased by 79 per cent and productivity has gone up 21 per cent, according to data procured from the department of horticulture.