Punjab farmers worried that prices my dip

Govt. making efforts to find newer markets

Chandigarh: Punjab expects production of citrus fruit kinnow in the State to touch an all-time high of 7 lakh metric tonne this year on account of favourable weather conditions and higher acreage, Punjab, Nodal Officer (Citrus) and Deputy Director of Horticulture Gurkamal Singh has claimed.

He said favourable weather conditions during flowering of the crop would be the main reason behind the record production of the fruit coupled with higher acreage. The fruit starts arriving in the market in December and continues till March.

Area under kinnow, which is mainly grown in Hoshiarpur, Muktsar and Abohar districts, this year stood at 39,000 hectares, up by 4,000 hectares against last year, he said.

The production of the fruit in Punjab has been in the range of 4 to 5 lakh MT over the past few years. In 2005-06 the area under the fruit stood at 22,887 hectares with production of 4.3 lakh MT, while in 2007-08 it jumped to 5.91 lakh MT with area under cultivation at 31,788 hectares. However, in 2008-09, though acreage rose to 35,000 hectares, the output fell to 3.5 lakh MT due of poor weather.

With the State anticipating bumper output, the yield of kinnow will also improve to 20 tonne per hectare from an average yield of 12 tonne a hectare, he said.

However, the bumper crop has left the kinnow growers worried as they fear its price may dip due to oversupply. This has forced the State Government to look for newer markets for the fuit.

“During the start of crop arrival season, we were getting Rs.10-11 per kg of kinnow but now the prices have started plummeting due to expected glut of fruit crop and peak marriage season getting over,” said Ajit Sharan, a kinnow grower in Abohar district.

To ensure better realization to fruit growers, the Punjab government has now devised a strategy to find distant markets for the sale of the citrus fruit. State owned Punjab Agri Export Corporation (PAGREXCO) has identified kinnow dealers in key markets of Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Varanasi to sell the fruit.

“We are aggressively finding domestic markets where Punjab kinnow can be sold and are in the process of identifying dealers with whom farmers can establish contact and sell them at attractive prices,” a PAGREXCO official said.

Besides, Punjab has also initiated efforts towards exploring export markets for kinnow. “We are in touch with buyers of Bangladesh and Dubai in order to revive export market of kinnow and we hope orders will soon start flowing in,” the official added.

Punjab used to export kinnow in Sri Lanka, UK, Mauritius, Netherlands, Dubai till 1998. --PTI