When Balwinder Singh Tikka was crowned the Kinnow King,2012,for having the best citrus fruit orchard in the state,it didnt come as as surprise for many.
It is a reward that Tikka,a resident Abul Khurana village located in Malaut tehsil,deserves for transforming barren land into a fruit farm with one of the highest per capita yield. Tikka has his orchard spread over 100 acres of land – nearly all of it is 10-12 ft higher than the average ground level with some areas being up to 20 ft high. To tackle the non-availability of water here,Tikka took to drip irrigation on 40 acres of the land in in 1994 and has never looked back since then.
It was difficult to cultivate the land because of higher altitude. But I went for drip irrigation and also cultivated teak and sagwan trees as wind breakers for Kinnow plants. Now,my orchard is in the best of health with an yield of more than 2,000 fruits per tree.
Tikka,who has already won a number of other farming awards,has motivated more than 500 farmers to adopt progressive agriculture practices. He has now diversified into fruit trade as well and has installed a Kinnow grading and waxing plant in the orchard area. He now sends the fruits from his orchard to Delhi and Calcutta.
I invested a lot to make the land fertile,and today I earn more than a lakh per acre from my orchard. The income is supplemented by the sale of teak and sagwan trees, he adds.
Not far behind is Karamjit Kaur Danewalia from Abohar,popularly known as Kinnow Queen in the state. Kaurs orchard is spread over 25 acres. This year we missed the first position by just 2 marks in the state. However,we are placed first in the Abohar division. Our trees on an average yield nearly 4,000 Kinnows, she adds.
52-year-old Kaur was conferred with Kinnow Queen title in 2011. She had created a national record in 2002 with 132.25 tonne per hectare yield.