Farmers report net profit of Rs 1.10-1.50 lakh per acre
Big retailers interested in buying, growing to save cost of transporting from Gujarat, Maharashtra
Banana grown here tastes better
State also biggest consumer of the fruit
It's bananas are ‘king-sized’ and earn growers sweet profits – between Rs 1.10 lakh to Rs 1.50 lakh per acre -- in a state that now aims to cultivate half the bananas it gorges on in a year.
Bad news for Gujarat and Maharashtra as till now they used to send all the Bananas the country’s largest consumer of this fruit needed. In value terms Punjab spent nearly Rs 600 crore per annum on bananas.
And companies engaged in food trade see an opportunity for themselves. Firms like Bharti, Godrej and Field Fresh have started growing bananas on their own to do away with transportation costs.
Vikram Singh, a manager with Field Fresh, said: “As the Punjab banana is better than that from Gujarat and UP, we are tying up with farmers here to get a direct supply. We ripen it without chemicals, using modern technology, and then sell it at a premium.”
These companies are also tying up with local farmers.
Certainly this is good news for farmers like Mewa Singh. He is among the first few to make a killing from the Banana crop he experimented with.
“The first crop gave a net profit of 1.5 lakh per acre. As a result, nearly 20 farmers from my village alone are going in for it,” he said. He plays host to farmers from near and far who visit him for tips. He has also become the president of the Banana Growers’ Association.
Till a Banana project promoted by Punjab State Farmers Commission two years ago, cultivation of this fruit was unheard of here in the land of the Green Revolution.
“What started as an experiment in 10 acres today has expanded into 300 acres of profitable plantations and is set to cross the 500 acre mark in 2010,” said Dr B.S. Chahal, consultant with the Commission. “Farmers who started with one acre had now extended to five acres or more,” he said.
The variety that has met initial success is the king-size Grand Nainy-G9 - the best in Asia - for which most of central Punjab has been found suitable. Banana grown in Punjab is also sweeter than that from states traditionally growing the crop, the official said.
Farmers from near and far are snapping up the tissue culture plants offered by the Commission. “ Nearly 1.96 lakh tissue culture plants were sold in the August-September season, the best time to grow this crop. We have now stopped the sales because the season is over and we didn't want people to see failure.”
Climate and land in Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Muktsar, Barnala, Sangrur, Moga and Fathegarh Sahib areas has been found suitable for Bananas. “We don't suggest this crop for Amritsar and Gurdaspur due to frost. Presence of a particular salt in soil makes Bhatinda unsuitable too,” Chahal said.