Citrus Estates have emerged as one of the most successive initiatives of Punjab government in providing a viable alternative for farmers who are left with no option but to diversify from the traditional farming.
It was in 2007, that the chief minister Parkash Singh Badal announced setting up of five Citrus Estates in Punjab. The objective was to enable farmers move away from the water consuming and soil depleting crop patterns by encouraging them to take up non-conventional farm activity, through citrus cultivation.
The five Citrus estates were set up in citrus growing area of Tahliwala Jattan, Abohar, Badal, Hariana and Hoshiarpur.
The estates have been provided with the state-of-the art laboratories besides latest and imported farm implements like Orange picker, pruning saw, harvesting and pruning ladders, power spray pumps and hydraulic pruner. These laboratories have been helping improving the quality of citrus through Research and Development.
Besides all the facilities for cold storage and marketing have also been provided with the help of Mandi board so as to provide commodity based market.
No wonder, ever since the formation of citrus estates, the area under citrus has grown from 42795 hac to 46290 hac. The number of growers too has risen considerably and at present there are around 8000 growers in state.
Kinnows, sweet orange, lime and lemon are the citrus fruits being grown in Punjab though 90% of the production is of kinnows.
Ferozepur, Muktsar and Hoshiarpur are amongst the top citrus producing districts in Punjab, with Ferozepur leading in the production.
Experts feel it’s the holistic approach of the Punjab government, backed by the experts, which has helped making this venture a success in the state.
Experts from Punjab Agriculture University have been setting up linkages with the horticulture department and industry to guide farmers in site selection, soil quality, plant variety and Orchid layout.
Recently the Punjab government had approved procuring more infrastructure for cultivators to give a fillip to their yield of farm products. Further the government plans importing 50 Electrostatic Knapsack Spray Pumps (EKSP) to tackle the problem of under surface pest in case of citrus estates. It has also been decided to further encourage citrus estates in the state, solubilising bacteria wil be produced by setting up a facility at Hoshiarpur.
Besides, expert advise there are a number of facilities which are being provided under one roof in these Citrus Estates. These include Plant health clinic for on-the-spot solution in regard to every kind of disease, Leaf analysis lab to check and maintain the nutritional balance in citrus orchards and arrangement of quality planting material and delivery of suitable package and practices for citrus cultivation.
Today there are more than 400 villages in Punjab where citrus farming has become a common practice and the Citrus estates are proving to be a boon to them.