February 9, 2009 11:09:36 pm
Upbeat in the beginning of the season when they were getting Rs 15 per kg– as compared to the maximum price of Rs 8 per kg last year– the kinnow growers in Punjab have been a worried lot this time. Blame it on the stars,literally.
After applying their minds in every possible direction to get to the bottom of the problem,the kinnow farmers have come up with an interesting observation. Due to an astrological bad omen of ‘dooba tara’,fewer weddings are being solenminsed in north India. “Huge amounts of kinnows are used for fresh juice and as gifts in fruit baskets during marriages. We can only hope for better prices once the marriage season starts. I had chosen not to sell kinnows initially when the prices were higher,” said Sukhpal Bhullar of Ghuman Kalan village in Bathinda districts,who grows the citrus crop on 20 acres.
According to Pandit Mukti Ram of Bathinda,the period of ‘dooba tara’ started on January 11 and would end on February 10. “It is not the star that has sunk but also the luck of kinnow growers,” rued Bhullar,claiming that he sold the fruit in Bangalore market for Rs 330 a box of 10 kg in the beginning of the season. “Now,I am not even getting Rs 200,” he lamented.
“At least four to five quintals of kinnow juice is served at a wedding function. Hundreds of marriages are solemnised on a single day during peak marriage season in metropolis,” said Gurvinder Singh of Kalar Khera village in Ferozepur. He is not only worried about his unsold crop grown on 31 acres,but also on 40 acres that he took on contract.
“I had not sold the crop,hoping a good price in the marriage season. Now,I have no choice but wait and watch,” said a worried Tejpal,who grew kinnow on 35 acres in Katehra village in Ferozepur.
There is a timeframe by which the kinnow growers can pluck fruits. “When not plucked for a prolonged period,the fruit over-ripens and drops,” Bhullar said.
Dr Gurkanwal Singh,Nodal Officer,Citrus,Hoshiarpur,admitted that due to few marriages,the demand of kinnows had decreased,but there were other reasons as well. “Around Republic Day,there is a slump in the demand every year due to restriction in movement of vehicles,” he said.
This season,kinnow was grown on about 32,000 hectares in Punjab and if Dr Gurkanwal is to be believed,about 3,000 hectares come under the crop every year.
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