Virus-free plants for farmers who want to grow Kinnow

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Ludhiana/Abohar, Aug 14 (ANI): The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and private nurseries are providing virus-free plants to farmers who want to grow Kinnow.

Agricultural experts and policy makers have been stressing on the need for farmers in Punjab to diversify from the traditional wheat and paddy crops.

Kinnow fruit that belongs to the orange family has emerged as a viable alternative.

But, a pre-requisite for its cultivation, is the availability of high-quality and disease-free nursery plants. he Agricultural University in Ludhiana has been producing disease-free plants since 1999 on scientific lines to cater to the needs of fruit growers and nurseries in Punjab.

This has brought about the Kinnow revolution in the state.

"Punjab has about 62,000 hectares under fruit cultivation, of which citrus has the major share. Kinnow is grown in 32,000 hectares in the state. Besides Punjab, there is demand for Kinnow plants from neighbouring states like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. There is an annual demand for 2.5 to 3 lakhs kinnow saplings," said Dr. H S Dhaliwal, a senior horticulturist. PAU.

The propagation of virus-free plants is carried under phytosanitary conditions in the screen houses under the supervision of inter-disciplinary teams of scientists.

The PAU aims at producing 30,000 disease-free Kinnow plants every year.

The emphasis is on strengthening of infrastructure of screen houses and laboratory with latest facilities for detection and indexing of viruses of plants and mechanized working in screen houses.

"The total area under horticulture is merely 0.9 per cent of the total cultivated land in Punjab. As per the Johar Committee Report, this area can be increased up to 6 per cent. Kinnows production can be increased in Punjab," said Dr. J S Bal, Head, Department of Horticulture, PAU.

Several private nurseries have been registered by the University to produce and distribute virus-free Kinnow plants to farmers in Punjab and neighbouring states.

The good quality Kinnow plants have a faster growth than the ordinary plants.

Growers book these plants for their orchards before the planting begins in September.

"The Government is providing gardening incentives to the farmers. If the farmer grows infected plants on his land, he is inviting disease and that too after paying money for it. We are trying to keep the crops virus-free, so that the farmers can grow healthy crops and make good money. We are working under the instructions given by University and trying to make it better," said Surinder Kumar Jakkhar, owner, farmer's first nursery, Abohar.

Punjab produces six lakh tons of Kinnow in 32 thousand hectares.

The fruit is mostly consumed fresh for table purpose and it is even exported to different states in the country as well as countries like Sri Lanka, Gulf and middle-east countries.

More farmers in Punjab are now tilting towards horticulture as fruit processing and warehousing facilities are improving in the region.

Horticulture has proved to be a boon for small and marginal farmers. By Karan Kapoor/ Avtar Gill (ANI)

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