After successfully creating a niche in plant agriculture for the past nine years, the Indo-Israeli Center of Excellence (CoE) for Vegetables and Citrus has started bringing its technology to villages where it will create ‘Indo Villages of Excellence’ -Israelis in growing vegetables The state horticulture department has selected 15 villages, seven in Jalandhar and eight in Hoshiarpur, where the technology would be transferred to ground zero farmers.
In the beginning, each polyhouse covering an area of one Kannal (500 yards) and packing station will be set up in villages and gradually their number will be increased.
For example, in the village of Alawalpur, in Jalandhar district, four police houses are being set up. Similarly, in some other villages, more than one polyhouse and pack house will also be established.
The main purpose is to bring maximum agricultural area under protected vegetable cultivation in the form of polyhouse and tunnel farming which will pave the way for crop diversification and also help farmers to make good profits in a short period with lower input costs.
Indo-Israel CoE for Vegetables was established in Kartarpur, Jalandhar in December 2013 where vegetables are grown in polyhouses and saplings are ready to be supplied to farmers across the state at a nominal price right at their homes.
To date, the center has provided farmers with 1.80 crore of saplings. Nearly 9,000 farmers benefited from it who received the technical know-how on growing vegetables in protected agriculture and benefited more from smaller land units. In all these years, 66,000 visitors including farmers, experts, students of schools, colleges, universities and experts from Israel have visited the village.
“Currently, the center was growing vegetables using new technology and also producing saplings using the new technique and now everything will be transferred to village level creating the village of excellence,” said Shailender Kaur, director of Punjab horticulture department. The official added that the center will now provide a suitable platform for rapid technology transfer to village-level farmers.
“This includes a demonstration of know-how and new techniques such as drip irrigation or fertigation, new crop varieties etc,” he said.
The main activities of the CoE include the standardization and demonstration of vegetables in various protected facilities, high-tech nurseries, home delivery of vegetable seedlings, post-harvest management facilities, human resource development, vegetable outlets model , etc. Scientists and experts from state universities and institutions, students and farmers visit regularly.
“The high-tech vegetable nursery is set up in a high-tech multi-purpose house in an area of 2,000 square meters where the vegetable nursery seedlings are produced in soilless substrates in plug trays as per the farmers’ requests. Farmers can also deliver seeds to the center and prepare seedlings for planting in the field at minimal fees. Around 180 lakh of seedlings were provided to the farmers, which has benefited nearly 9,000 farmers,” said Dr Daljit Singh Gill, CoE Project Manager, Kartarpur.
The new technologies adopted at the center have been shown to drastically multiply production and significantly increase product quality which increases vegetable productivity and farmers’ profit. It also generates employment and increases the state’s contribution to GDP, he said.
“The area under horticulture has grown from 2.45 lakh hectares in 2011-12 to 4.39 lakh hectares in 2021-22, an increase of 79% in a decade,” Director Kaur said, adding that on a total of 4.2 million hectares of arable area, the horticulture area is 4.39 lakh hectares which is 9.56% of the total arable area of the state.
Out of a total of 4.39 lakh hectares, vegetables, spices, aromatic and floral crops are grown in 3.43 lakh hectares and fruit in 96,000 hectares (kinnow fruit in 55,470 hectares; guava in 9,580 hectares; mango in 7,116 hectares; pear in 3,440 ha, and lychees in 3,156 hectares).
Punjab, which produced around 38.83 lakh tonnes of horticulture a decade ago, has now seen a whopping 100% increase of 86.20 lakh tonnes.
Out of the total production in 2021-22, the maximum share comes from vegetables (64.39 lakh tons), followed by fruits (21.42 lakh tons), flowers (13,225 tons), spices and aromatic crops (13,110 tons), and mushrooms ( 12,000 tons). tons).
Among vegetables, 28.70 lakh of potatoes, 4.60 lakh of peas, 6.57 lakh of tubers, 4.18 lakh of cauliflower and 2.86 lakh of vines were grown in the state.
Furthermore, Punjab is one of the leading producers of honey in the country with 13.7%. Furthermore, the productivity per hectare of horticultural crops is 19.62 tons and contributes 14.58% of the quota (GDP).
Meanwhile, to inspire the farmers to sell their produce directly to the consumers, a model home gardening and planting fresh vegetable outlet has been set up near the gate of the Kartarpur CoE. Farmers receive regular training on protected cultivation. To date, 38 training programs and seminars on protected crops have been organized for farmers.