In India, orange is one of the most widely grown fruit after banana and apple. The commercial variety of oranges is Mandarin (40%), sweet orange (23%), and acid lime (23%). This citrus fruit is mostly grown in the state of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Orissa, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh.
Today, amongst the states of India, Rajasthan stands at the fourth position in the production of oranges. The state has drawn up several plans to support entrepreneurs for setting up different processing units of oranges.
On 21st May, 2017, Mr. Prabhu Lal Saini, the state Minister for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry said: “We plan to give up to 50 percent subsidy i.e. an amount of up to 20 lakh, to those who wish to establish post harvest processing units here in the state itself.” The minister added that all these units must engage in grading, waxing, and packaging as well as pulp extraction at the farm gate.
“This citrus fruit will be marketed under a newly coined brand name as ‘Raj Santra’,” Mr. Prabhu Lal Saini told a group of journalists.
Rajasthan’s Kota division accounts for 98 percent of the 2.67-lakh tons of oranges produced in the state. It has already been a Centre of Excellence for Citrus. Now, they are developing newer varieties, which are suitable for the farmers.
Mr. Rashid Khan, Centre In-charge said that, “The centre has also developed 16 varieties of oranges and eight varieties of lemons so far. Some of them are being currently tested on an experimental basis.”
A comprehensive plan to bolster this mission has also been formulated. Mashav, an Israel’s International Aid Agency, which comes under the National Horticulture Mission has provided useful inputs which will ensure successful implementation of the same. The centre will train the farmers about different methods of modern agricultural techniques such as mulch, drip, and ridge-bed system for irrigation, said Khan.
“The variety of oranges, which are grafted at the centre like Jaffa, Valencia, Daisy and Clementine are most popular worldwide. Recently, the centre has also given the facility to graft 50, 000 plants yearly and each plant will be charged at a subsidized rate of Rs 50,” he added.
Mr. Atuljeet Singh Jhala, who has an orange orchard in Jhalawar district said he was impressed with the work, which is being done at the centre and now will try out new varieties if the centre will convince him about the benefits. “The coming up of new processing units might help the farmers to get a better price,” he added.
In the end, Mr. Khan said that, “Adoption of new cultivation practices might cost the farmers 15 percent more, but the yield will surely leap about 35 percent or more.
Jhalawar which is also known as the “Nagpur of Rajasthan” will witness a flourishing orange business as predicted rainfall and suitable climatic conditions will engender increased productivity.