Chandigarh: Contrary to the tall claims of Punjab government for promoting citrus farming in the state, scores of farmers have uprooted their sprawling Kinnow orchards after suffering huge losses in the last couple of years. The farmers who have opted for Kinnow farming as a crop diversification are returning to traditional farming of paddy-maze-wheat cycle.
According to government record Punjab has roughly 48,000 hectares area under kinnow faming. This includes 26,000 hectares in the Abohar-Fazilka belt, 6,500 hectares in Hoshiarpur, 5,600 hectares in Muktsar and 4,500 hectares in Bathinda.
Sources in the department disclosed that nearly 700-800 hectares of orchards are being uprooted annually by the farmers due to inadequate government support for marketing, low market price of their produce, spurious quality pesticides and insecticides in the market.
Moreover, the farmers are unable to meet the expenses they spend on nurturing a kinnow orchard till it starts bearing fruits.
Progressive farmers of Hoshiarpur district including Harbinder Singh Sandhu, Faqir Singh Sahota, Resham Singh Inderpal Singh and Bakhsish Singh Randhawa have uprooted their kinnow orchards, ranging from 2 acre to 50 acres in last two years.
They lament that the production cost is much higher than the returns that forced them to return to the traditional crops cycle.
Thought the fruits is selling for Rs 10 to Rs15 per kg this time against Rs 5 to Rs 7 per kg (last year)- yet this is not profitable. Even government (Punjab Agro Industries Corporation) owned food processing plant located in Jahan Khela in Hoshiarpur is purchasing their produce form Rs 6 per kg which is even quite less, claimed Faqir Singh.
Areas under kinnow warming increased from 19,000 to 39,000 hectares in 2005 to 2010, after state government gave a push for crop diversification. To promote kinno farming in Punjab, the government set up kinnow processing plants at Hoshiarpur and Abohar apart from constituting Citrus Estates to provide advice and farm implements, grading, waxing and other facilities.
In Ahohar-Fazilka belt, a number of orchards are being uprooted because of the problem of salinity in ground water. Experts say that kinnow requires dry land with water tables below 12 feet but in this area water tables is rising to 7-8 feet levels thus leading to fungal disease in the plants.
The farmers also believe the problems needs to be addressed and more research is required for developing new varieties of kinnows.
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