Punjab farmers drawn to orchids, contributing to forest cover area

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Kandi Area (Pathankot) Sep. 6: (ANI): A growing number of farmers in the Kandi area of Pathankot are helping the Punjab Forest Department to prevent the felling of trees to protect the State's forest cover.

Farmers have diversified from harvesting vegetables to growing citrus in orchids.

This shift is expected to ensure a far better income than was managed previously, and it has added to the green cover of the area as well.

Farmers are optimistic about establishing citrus orchids a profitable venture.

Farmers believe the forest cover can contribute to curbing global warming.

According to S.S. Bajwa, a former wildlife warden of the area, over 25 percent of the farmers in the area have diversified their agro-based business into horticulture business.

Bajwa reveals there are many government schemes including Eco Tourism Scheme that certainly encourage farmers to establish orchids in the area.

This strip along the Himachal Pradesh - Punjab border mostly cultivated the maize, cucumber, chillis and other vegetables.

The land is suitable for growing citrus fruits.

Gopal, a farmer in the Kandi area, says that fruits from orchids not just earn more income but have a shelf life that is much more than vegetables.

Nirmal, a woman farmer, said that if the government provides, logistic support, growing orchids would not be a problem.

According to a Forest Survey of India report, the dense forest cover in Punjab is 3.14 percent of the total area which is less than the desert State of Rajasthan which has 4.62 per cent of total area under forest cover.

As per its latest report, the dense forest cover in Punjab has decreased by a whopping 80,600 hectares.

Citrus fruits are the highest value fruit crop in terms of international trade. There are two main markets for citrus fruit: the fresh fruit market and the processed citrus fruits market (mainly orange juice).

Though citrus originated in southeast Asia, current production is low due to lower than average yields, high production and marketing costs and problems with disease. By Ravinder Singh Robin (ANI)

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