Out of the total 70,000 hectares under fruit cultivation in Punjab,Kinnow farming is carried out on 41,000 hectares 58 per cent of the total area. Though Kinnow gives good yields to farmers,but grow other fruits as well,horticulture experts told farmers at the state-level Kinnow Festival being held at Sangam Palace in Abohar.
Among the 4,631 varieties of citrus families on display at the festival,4,493 alone were varieties of Kinnows. Malta in the early 1970s used to be cultivated on 20,000 hectares. Now,the area has been reduced to 2,400 hectares and farmers have shifted from Malta to Kinnow because it pays better, said Dr G S Kahlon,a senior horticulturist. Other citrus varieties like lemon,sweet orange,foster,marsh,etc are grown on only 13,000 hectare.
We do advise farmers in sub-mountain areas to grow Malta instead of Kinnow,but we cannot force them. But to add more fruits,we are conducting research on a variety of Daisy Tangerine,which is identical to Kinnow and it will be ready by November. Once the research is complete,the plants will be cultivated, said Director (Horticulture) Dr Lajwinder Singh Brar. Apart from Kinnow,fruits like peaches,litchis,guava,etc are also grown in a few patches of the state,he added.
Despite a huge increase in the area under Kinnow cultivation,farmers have not received good prices this year. Last year,while the average price was Rs 20 per kg,this time,it has fallen to Rs 7-8 per kg. The increase in orange and mausami cultivation in Nagpur is the reason behind the low prices. This fruit has no other market except the domestic consumers, said Brar.