Expect fresh muskmelons this December. The Centre of Excellence for Vegetables  here plans to provide farmers saplings of three muskmelon varieties for cultivation in polyhouses this month-end.

Having experimented the technique for five years,  using Israeli technology, experts at the centre claim the off-season crop will help farmers earn handsome profit.  Project Officer Daljit Singh Gill says 1,200 plants can be sown in a one-kanal polyhouse, yielding 2,400 kg of muskmelon, which can be sold for Rs 100 per kg in winters. “We have held successful trials with saplings of Bobby, Anthena and Muskan varieties. Pollination is to be done by hand,” he said, claiming it was the best way to shift from the paddy-wheat cycle. “While paddy or wheat grown over one acre yields a Rs 40,000-50,000 profit, muskmelon will fetch Rs 1 lakh per acre.” 

Officials at the centre claim  1,300 polyhouses have been set up across Punjab, 250 of these on subsidy. Over the past more than five years, the centre has evolved various techniques (including use of silvery nets instead of green covers) and trained 700 farmers. Sown in a soil-free medium of coco peat vermiculite and in an anti-dust and anti-virus atmosphere, the centre has already supplied 95 lakh saplings to the farmers since January 2013.

Source: September 6, 2018, The Tribune