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Govt. imports citrus varieties

By Our Staff Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, FEB.2. To ensure appropriate remuneration for fruit cultivators as well as playing an important role in the international market, the Punjab Government has imported 23 high-yielding varieties of citrus fruits.

According to an official release quoting the State Cooperation and Horticulture Minister, Jasjit Singh Randhawa, the citrus varieties, which were being imported from Florida, include 12 of maltas, four of oranges, two of grapefruit and five of lemon. Apart from this, rootstalks of 16 varieties of these citrus fruits have also been imported for grafting.

The Minister also disclosed that another 12 varieties of oranges were being imported from Japan and Israel, whose fruits would be used for domestic consumption and not for processing purposes.

The release further said that juices and other products from these varieties would meet the international standards, while the farmers could earn better profits as compared to the conventional wheat and paddy crops. Presently just 44,000 acres of land in the state was under horticulture, of which 45 percent was under cultivation of kinnow. Even as Punjab had taken a national level lead by returning 2.5 lakh metric tones production of kinnow crop, the entire produce was consumed within the country.

The state government was seized of the matter that the kinnow and orange varieties grown in the state were not suitable for the processing industry, which explained the situation where farmers could not get remunerative rates. This also contributed in farmers not opting for horticulture while proceeding in the diversification programmes.

The Minister further said that while the geographical conditions of Punjab including its soil were appropriate for citrus fruit cultivation, the state Government, with the assistance of a leading MNC, Tropicana, as well as following expert advice from some American farm scientists, had decided to cultivate these varieties of fruits.

Adding further, the Minister said that thousands of these imported saplings have been planted on trial basis in farms of the horticulture department at Attari in Amritsar district, and Khanoran village of Hoshiarpur district while experimentation was also going on in farms of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) at Ludhiana and Abohar. Fifty-five saplings have been planted in Pepsi farm in Jallowal near Jalandhar city. Besides this, 1500 more plants were being provided to the farmers at the rate of Rs. 50 per plant throughout the state.

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