Hoshiarpur (Punjab): Traditionally limited to states like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh, apple cultivation has now picked up pace in Punjab. Gurinder Singh Bajwa, a farmer from Ludhiana, is producing apples on a large scale in his farm in Chahal village in Hoshiarpur.
Working as an employee in a private firm which dealt with spraying of chemicals on crops, Gurinder often on assignments, used to find himself in apple farms of Kashmir. “It made me wonder if growing apples on a large scale was possible in Punjab,” he said.
After doing extensive research and consulting experts, he managed to find two low -chilling varieties that could be grown in his village – Anna variety and Dorsette golden variety. Six years later, he has now introduced a few more varieties, like “pink lady”, which he says will start to mature by next year.According to Gurinder, his apples are far cheaper than the imported varieties available in markets and much tastier. Moreover, apples from Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are expensive and only come by August and September, whereas apples from his farm arrive in markets by the months of May and June.
Following in the footsteps of Gurinder, Colonel (Retd) RP Singh, who hails from a farming family, has also started cultivating apples in his own farm. Earlier, Singh faced several issues when he used to cultivate Kinnow and other crops, but switching to apple cultivation has provided him with much better returns on his investment. At roughly Rs 90 per kg it is cheaper than both imported varieties as well as the apples from Kashmir.
“Our apples are completely organic, which is in tune with the rising demand for organic fruits and vegetables. Our business will only grow from here,” said Singh optimistically.
Gurinder, who is currently working as Assistant Director in the state horticulture department in Ludhiana, hopes that the government will support and incentivise apple cultivation in Punjab so that more farmers can adopt the practice. He finds happiness in the fact that he may have opened new avenues for farmers in his region.