Banana farming gaining popularity in Punjab

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Ludhiana, Nov 16(ANI): Diversification is the buzzword for progressive farmers in Punjab, and banana farming, which started in 2006, is now emerging as a 'viable' and alternate form of farming in the State.

Banana farming has become popular among Punjabi farmers, while many private firms have also shown keen interest in the contract farming of bananas.

Its cultivation, which started in 10-acres in 2006, has already crossed 300 acres and is expected to increase further. I started growing bananas in 2007 and since then my profit margin has increased 4-5 times. I earn minimum of 1.5 lakh per acre every year and it can go higher. If the market rates remain good as they are at the present, I believe we will be able to make an income of over 2 lakh per acre," said Mewa Singh, President of the Banana Growers Association.

Meanwhile, scientists at the Punjab Agricultural University are providing the most suitable plants to the farmers, as they believe that banana farming could be highly profitable.

According to the Punjab State Farmer Commission, it has sold 196,000 tissue culture plants in season of August and September.

"The variety of banana that we produce here is quite similar to banana from Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. We are using advanced techniques for growing bananas in Punjab. We have chosen the month of February for planting it so to keep it safe from fog in winters. The bananas ripen on time and the farmers get a good price. The farmers grow a number of plants in an acre, so they can earn around 1-1.20 lakh," said Dr. Pushpender Singh, Punjab Agricultural University.

Punjab consumes bananas worth nearly 120 million dollars every year, among the highest in country. And, just catering to the domestic market presents a huge opportunity to Punjab farmers.

With an average income of 2,000 dollars per acre, banana farming has picked up and is gaining further momentum.hile, due to the good quality of the fruit, retail majors have also tied up with Punjab farmers for its direct purchase.

"We have been impressed by the fruit, which is available for ripening. We are planning to source the fruit from here and do the ripening in our ripening chambers and sell it in the domestic market," said Vikram Singh, Manager of Agri-Business Development, Field Fresh Fruits.

"We feel that the quality of this banana should be good as presently the banana is coming from Jalgaon, Maharashtra and it is taking a long time in transportation, so therefore we feel that this banana should be comparatively better as far as economy is concerned and as well as the quality and shelf life," he added.

The fruit's inclusion in the National Horticulture Mission recently is likely to further sweeten the proposition for Punjab farmers, as up to 50 per cent subsidy will now be offered for its plants and drip irrigation. By Karan Kapoor (ANI)

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