Horticulture witnesses a profitable season in Punjab

June 2nd, 2009 - 8:05 pm ICT by ANI  

By Avtar Gill / Sumit Sharma

Abohar, June 2 (ANI): With the weather remaining favourable, farmers in Punjab are anticipating a bumper crop of muskmelon, grapes and pears this year.

Punjab’s climate and soil are best suited for horticulture, which is ensuring prosperity to a large number of farmers here.

Resham Singh is one such farmer in Kapurthala. He is progressive and has grown muskmelon, a summer fruit known as ‘Kharbuza’ in local parlance.

With ‘Kharbuza’ in high demand during summer, Resham Singh is able to earn a good profit this season.

There are many like Resham Singh in Patiala and Kapurthala districts who have benefited tremendously by growing muskmelon, as it is in great demand in the middle and upper middle classes.

Traders from far away places are coming to Punjab to buy muskmelon. Besides, it’s also being supplied to big hotel chains across the country.

In Punjab, farmers mainly grow the Namdhari, Punjab Sunheri and Abhijit varieties of muskmelon.

“Diversification is the buzzword in farming these days. And, muskmelon is the best alternative to earn a profit. If the produce is good with favourable weather conditions, a farmer can earn better profits than through regular crops like wheat and rice. No other crop can give better profits than muskmelon. It requires less water and is a viable option for farmers,” said Resham Singh, a muskmelon grower.

Farmers in Punjab also have started growing grapes.

Grown mainly in southwest Punjab on an estimated 1,050 hectares of land, the state contributes 3.5 per cent of country’s total grape production.

In Punjab, vines are dormant during winter. On the other hand, berry development in the summer is rapid.

Now, efforts are on to increase the grapes production through Israeli technology.

“If a farmer sells grapes at a minimum support price of 5-6 rupees (10-12 penny) per kilogram, he can earn 50,000 to 60,000 rupees (1,000-1,200 dollars) per acre. It is far more lucrative than other crops like wheat, cotton and maize. Grapes are comparatively easy to grow. Nowadays, traders come to farms buy their produce, which saves our transportation costs,” said Vinod Kumar, a grape grower.

“Earlier, a subsidy of Rs. 5,000 (100 dollars) per acre was given to fruit growers, which has now been reduced to Rs 2,800 (56 dollars). Farmers get money from grapes when they have no other source of earning. They can earn more profit through the use of Israeli technology. Also, the farmers need to market their produce and establish a processing industry for wines and juices,” said Dr. Pushpinder Singh, Director of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), regional station in Abohar.

Punjab also produces Kinnow (Citrus), Mango, Pear, Peach, Plum and Litchi.

At present, fruits occupy about 62,000 hectares from which an annual production of 10.6 metric tons has been estimated.

Fruit growing offers the farmers alternate avenues with sincere efforts, the present 0.9 per cent of the existing area under fruit cultivation can be increased up to six per cent. (ANI)

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