No juicy returns for Punjab kinnow growers as prices drop - Hindustan Times
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No juicy returns for Punjab kinnow growers as prices drop

ByVishal Joshi, Bathinda
Jan 28, 2024 06:00 AM IST

Orchardists and officials in the state horticulture dept said the average farm gate price of the fruit is ₹6 to ₹11 per kg, which was expected to be ₹20 per kg

Kinnow growers in Punjab are apprehending losses this season as nearly half of the 13 lakh tonnes of the crop are yet to be harvested even as the season will end in less than two months.

Farmers sought the Punjab government’s intervention by considering a demand of providing kinnow to students in the mid-day meal. (Sanjeev Kumar /HT)
Farmers sought the Punjab government’s intervention by considering a demand of providing kinnow to students in the mid-day meal. (Sanjeev Kumar /HT)

Orchardists and officials in the state horticulture department said the average farm gate price of the fruit is 6 to 11 per kg, which was expected to be 20 per kg.

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Farmers sought the Punjab government’s intervention by considering a demand of providing kinnow to students in the mid-day meal.

Stakeholders attribute low rates to the small size and three-times hike in customs duty by the Bangladesh government. Officials said farmers are in a tight spot as Bangladesh, the biggest importer of the citrus fruit, has increased import duty to 63 per kg last year from 20 per kg imposed in 2019.

Ongoing cold conditions are further responsible for crash rates as there was hardly any demand for kinnows. Abohar belt in Fazilka is the hub of kinnow cultivation in the country and about 35,000 hectares of land is under the crop in 2023.

Official estimation says this time, a record 13 lakh tonnes of fruit was grown.

A progressive farmer from Saidanwali village in Fazilka, Bala Ram Bishnoi, said despite bumper produce, there are no takers for the crop.

“Due to poor demand, I had to finalise a contract to sell my produce worth 5 lakh on my four-acre orchard for half of its rate. The contractor left the harvesting midway due to a crumbled market and now I have no means to handle the crop,” he said.

A state awardee kinnow grower, Arvind Setia, said after a gap of two consecutive failed seasons, orchardists were hopeful of handsome returns with a bumper crop. “But impressive yield impacted the growth of the fruit, and the buyers are offering 6 and 11 per kg due to the small size of fruits. Farmers are upset as 50% of the crop has not been harvested due to lack of buyers. Kinnow growers have created a niche for Punjab in the horticulture sector. As nearly five lakh tonnes of fruits is still in the orchards, the state should extend support to kinnow farmers by replacing bananas with state-grown fruit in the government schools,” added Setia.

Nodal officer of the state horticulture department’s citrus fruits division Balwinder Singh said on Saturday that there is hardly any scope for improvement in farm gate rates. “For the last over a decade, the average kinnow production of Punjab was 12 lakh tonnes but this time it touched the figure of 13 lakh tonnes. Hike in duty by the Bangladesh government discouraged exporters and prolonged cold wave hit local demand of the fruit,” he added.

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