The Punjab horticulture department has not only played a big role in diversification, but is also poised as a profitable alternative for landless and marginal farmers having less than one-acre land. Even small, medium and big farmers under huge debt can adopt new horticulture techniques available at the recently-opened three Centres of Excellence — for vegetables at Kartarpur), for potatoes at Dhogri village in Jalandhar and for citrus fruits at Khanaura village in Hoshiarpur. These centres are not only providing farmers high quality seeds, hybrid plants at reasonable prices, but also free training in their respective fields.
In Punjab, the main fruits are kinnow, sweet orange, lime, lemon, mango, litchi, guava, pear, peach, plum, grapes, ber, amla, banana etc. While main vegetables included potato, onion, garlic, tomato, brinjal, cauliflower, cabbage, okra, chilli, peas, muskmelon, watermelon, vine crops, root crops etc.
Barring vine crops, every vegetable has seen a good increase in area but potato, cauliflower, peas and root crops have seen maximum increase by 10,206 hectares, 6,300 hectares, 8,300 hectares and 4,600 hectares, respectively. Similarly, almost every fruit has seen increase in acreage but the maximum increase was seen under citrus fruits at 4,600 hectares.
Dr Daljit Singh, project officer (Punjab Horticulture Department) of the Indo-Israel Centre of Excellence for Vegetables at Kartarpur, said poly house and walk-in tunnel farming are being promoted to grow vegetables as the crops grown in poly houses are excellent both quality and quantity wise. “We have trained around 3,000 farmers and majority of them are adopting this technique where poly houses are made with the help of government subsidies and cultivation of vegetables is done on raised beds, with drip irrigation and in a vertical manner."