Hoshiarpur, Jul 13: Turmeric and honey processing plants in the district are not only changing the lives of thousands of turmeric growers and bee-keepers but also of the jobless youths there by providing them direct and indirect employment.
Under Centre's Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojna, two processing plants, one for turmeric and the other for honey, were set up in the district last year, with Punjab Agriculture Department as the nodal department.
The processing plants are being run by Farm Produce Promotion Society (FAPRO), which has 306 regular members, of which 80 per cent are marginal farmers and beekeepers.
Nodal officer of this project Chaman Lal Vashishat told UNI that presently about 450 acre area is under turmeric cultivation in the district which could increase to 1500 acres in one year.
''As per a simple economic estimate, one acre farm yields 70-75 quintals turmeric under shade and 90-100 quintals in open conditions. The raw turmeric is sold at the rate of Rs 5 per Kg, that is Rs 45,000 per acre can be earned as against Rs 15,000-20.000 for other crops,'' he said.
The total turmeric produced is being procured by the processing plant and this has proved a good viable alternative for the farmers of the area. The plant is also providing employement opportunities to the unemployed youth as marketing of the processed turmeric is being done by the self help unemployed youth groups.
Rates of processed turmeric and honey are fixed by the members of the society. No middle men are involved from cultivation to sale process which is not only benefiting the members but also the customers.
Hoshiarpur district is also known as the honey bowl of the state.
During last year 460 tonnes of honey had been sold to other states through private agencies from the district.
There are more than 800 beekeepers in the district. The average yield ranges between 35 to 50 Kg per hive for stationary and migratory beekeepers respectively.
Keeping in view the success of the project, teams of the Nigeria government, World Bank and representatives of Rajasthan, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir governments had recently visited the district to get first-hand information of the working of the society.
Chief Agriculture Officer Kulbir Singh Deol informed that a pulse processing unit would also be introduced by FAPRO in the district very soon.