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Punjab

Good kinnow crop this yr, but salinity poses challenge Grown Since 1950s, It’s Now An Export Item

March 02, 2019 05:41 AM

COURTESY TOI MARCH 2

Saving Farmers
Good kinnow crop this yr, but salinity poses challenge
Grown Since 1950s, It’s Now An Export Item
Neel.Kamal@timesgroup.com

Bathinda:

Good news for kinnow farmers. The state’s Abohar region, which accounts for 60% of the country’s produce, is recording a bumper crop this year.


Despite a drop in average price of the juicy fruit compared to last year, the considerable increase in production has duly compensated the farmers. Presently growers are selling kinnow at nearly Rs 12-13 per kilogram whereas last year it had fetched up to Rs 20 per kilogram.

It is because of its kinnow orchards that Abohar has been given the sobriquet, California of Punjab. Hundreds of kinnow orchids have come up in Abohar subdivision from where the fruit is exported to a number of countries. Kinnow sowing began in late 1950s in the area and former MP late Balram Jakhar’s family is termed as pioneers of its cultivation in the area.

But the farmers are facing problems due to salinity in the area. The underground water level, they claim, which was at nearly 20 feet has gone up considerably posing a threat to the crop. The saline water affects the mortality in plants and increases the production cost of growers.

“The salinity in water highly affects the kinnow crop. It affects the quality of fruit which directly translates into profitability of the grower,” tells Ajay Vir Jhakar, chairman of Punjab farmer commission. But despite these issues, farmers here are trying to ensure that the region stays put as a leader in crop production.

Balwinder Singh Tikka, 60, of village Abul Khurana near Lambi, is credited with using the unfertile and waterlogged land to promote

kinnow cultivation. When many were shifting to paddy from horticulture, Tikka remained committed to kinnow cultivation using Israel technique of drip irrigation when it was rarely used in Punjab in late 1990s . This made others follow him.

He is cultivating kinnow in 125 acres and has set up own brushing and wax plant. “I started cultivating kinnows in late eighties. People then were very apprehensive about growing the fruit in unfertile waterlogged land but I was committed and prepared my orchard and started using drip irrigation. After some years, even progressive farmers started following us,” said Balwinder, who received the national award for the best citrus grower in 2018.

Punjab horticulture department director Pushpinder Singh Aulakh said with more thrust on kinnow growing, related industry like picking, cleaning, grading, waxing, packing and marketing of the kinnow have got a boost

 
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