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Abohar kinnow growers switch to alternative crops amid challenges

In Abohar, Punjab, kinnow growers are transitioning to cultivating pear, plum, and guava due to challenges such as fungal attacks, a declining water table, and diminished returns despite high yields. The region has experienced two consecutive years of heat waves, affecting plant health and fruit quality, leading to the premature dropping of unripe fruits—a persistent issue in kinnow cultivation.

One grower cited rapid disease progression as the primary reason; disease rather than climate has been the critical factor in declining plant health, with kinnow plant lifespans decreasing from 40 to 25 years, and in some cases, orchards withering within a decade. "Pricing didn't hurt us so long as the quality was good. The weather uncertainties and plant quality are bigger concerns," he stated.

Fungal and bacterial diseases, including citrus canker, scab, and dieback, have compounded the difficulties for kinnow growers. Pear is considered a viable alternative due to its longer shelf life and market demand in West Bengal and Bihar. The Abohar belt is a significant contributor to Punjab's kinnow production, accounting for almost 60% of the state's output. However, the declining water table and poor plant health have prompted farmers to switch to pear and guava.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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