Horticulture Ensures Multiple Gains: Dr. Kang

April 28, 2009 Ludhiana

Citrus has an important place in the horticultural industry of Punjab having a vast domestic market. Citrus cultivation can help the farmers in increasing their incomes. It also helps the agricultural diversification of Punjab. These were some of the observations made during a one-day seminar on 'Insect Pest and Disease Problems on Fruit Crops and their Management' at Punjab Agricultural University, today. The seminar organized by PAU's Department of Horticulture was sponsored by National Horticulture Mission. Around 100 fruit growers, scientists, retired horticulturists, nursery men and persons from processing industry attended the seminar.

Dr. Manjit Singh Kang, Vice-Chancellor PAU, who was the Chief Guest on the occasion said that cultivation of fruits contributes to the health, happiness and prosperity of people. In Punjab the total area under fruits is nearly 62,000 hectares that produces about 10.6 lac metric tons annually. Kinnow is the major fruit of Punjab which is now occupying 32,000 hectares. Besides, guava, mango, ber, and pear are other important fruits of Punjab, he said. Although the climate of India is favourable for production of different types of fruits, yet our fruit consumption per head per day is lowest relative to developed and developing countries. This necessitates increasing area and production of fruits to meet the minimum requirement at a reasonable cost, he observed. He told that PAU is laying emphasis on quality nursery production, weed management, agro-techniques like spacing, drip irrigation and post-harvest handling including waxing and grading. He highlighted some limiting factors such as unfavourable soil conditions, inadequate plant material, biotic and abiotic stresses and inadequate processing. He said that modern cold storage and processing facilities need to be created to curtail post-harvest losses which are to the tune of 30%.

Dr. P.S. Minhas, Director of Research discussed recent advances made in horticulture in general and fruit crop protection, in particular. Elaborating upon the benefits of fruit cultivation. He said that fruit growing offers the farmers alternate avenues to increase their profitability. The availability of good quality plants as well as in their marketing is important. Punjab Government has established a Citrus Council to solve such problems and promote citrus cultivation to the state in a big way.

Dr D.S.Dhillon. officiating Director of Extension Education, said that PAU develops and recommends need-based technologies which are well received by farmers. He said that fruit growers, nursery men and those concerned with progressive horticulture must keep a liaison with horticultural experts and make a habit of reading farm literature published by PAU. He said that modern tools and techniques of information and communication technology can play useful role in feeding the farmers with latest knowledge.

Dr. Baldev Singh, Director of Horticulture Punjab, discussed plans and policies for horticulture development in Punjab. He shared various subsidy schemes for fruit growers under National Horticulture Mission. He said that scientists and field level functionaries of PAU and department of Horticulture Punjab are endeavouring to promote horticulture industry in the state.

Earlier, welcoming the Chief Guest and participants, Dr. J.S. Bal, Head Department of Horticulture said that the existing area under fruits in Punjab contributes only 0.9% of the total cultivated area of the state. Referring to the recommendation on diversification of Agriculture he said that area under fruits can be increase upto 6% of the cropped area.

In the technical session various issues pertaining to fruit cultivation were deliberated. Dr. D.R. Sharma and Dr. P.K. Arora discussed strategies for insect and pest management of citrus and other fruits. Dr. S.K. Thind highlighted citrus research-problems and future strategies. Dr.J.S. Virk and Dr. Chander Mohan give an overview of disease management approach in fruit crop. Special lectures on status and management of fruit mite, pesticide residue on fruits and role of honey been in horticulture were held. The participating farmers interacted with experts during the question answer session.