To boost kiwifruit production in the district, the horticulture department is offering financial assistance to farmers to cultivate the plant as an alternative crop. The district, where vast tracts of land are under apple cultivation, farmers are now looking at other crops to sustain their livelihood as, due to unfavourable weather conditions, they have often failed to get a good crop of apples, which is the main source of their income.
The department's deputy director, BS Rana, said cultivation of kiwifruit may be a good alternative for farmers, especially since the plant safe from wild animals like monkeys that destroy crops. He urged farmers to come forward to take the benefit of the government run scheme.
“The department is offering `75,000 assistance to each farmer for one hectare land to cover it under kiwi cultivation, in which first installment of aid will be given 60%, while remaining 40% will be provided 20% each in two installments on completion of work. Presently 35 hectares of land between Bajaura to Rayson in Kullu district are under kiwi cultivation. During the past few years it was observed that in lower attitude areas of the district apple production was declining rapidly, which raised the worry of farmers, who are now looking for alternative crops to sustain their livelihood,” Rana said.
Kiwi plants require 200 chilling hours below 7 degrees Celsius in a year to have good crop, which can develop in subzero temperature places easily and in Kullu middle areas of the district are more suitable for its cultivation, which can bring good income for the farmers.
According to local vendors, the demand for kiwi fruit is high among customers in the district, where farmers getting `80 to `100 per kg for their produce during the peak season. However, due to less production here they are forced to import kiwifruit from out of the state to fulfill demand.