In an effort to fulfill the aim Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann led government to increase the income of the farmers of the state and to encourage crop diversification,Chetan Singh Jauramajra, Minister for Freedom fighters, Defense Services Welfare, Horticulture, Information and Public Relations , inaugurated the Phase 1 of Chilly Cluster on March 17, 2023 at village Mehlam of district Ferozepur in the presence of Hon'ble Speaker Punjab Vidhan Sabha Kultar Singh Sandhawan, Mahinder Singh Sidhu, Chairman PUNSEED.
Detailing about the production of chillies in Punjab, Jauramajra said that 19,963 metric tonnes of green chillies are produced in an area of about 9,920 hectares in Punjab. Major chilly producing districts of Punjab are Ferozepur, Patiala, Malerkotla, Sangrur, Jalandhar, Tarn Taran, Amritsar, SBS Nagar and Hoshiarpur. Of these, districts Ferozepur is the largest producer of chillies in an area of 1700 hectares and is followed by Jalandhar with 1195 hectares and Tarn Taran with 1106 hectares.
The maximum production of Chillies in Punjab is 19 MT/hectare. Chilli farming is known to provide employment to more than 8000 people directly and more than 16,000 people indirectly.
Talking about the plight of Chilly farmers Jauramajra said that earlier the Chilly crop did not get proper price due to which the farmers were getting discouraged from crop diversification but now with the formation of this cluster the farmers will be able to market the Chilly crop successfully and they will also be able to get a good profit.
On the occasion of the inauguration of this cluster, Honourable Speaker Kultar Singh Sandhawan and Cabinet Minister Chetan Singh Jauramajra went to the fields themselves and enquired from the farmers regarding different types of Chillies.
The Minister said that the Chilly producers of Ferozepur district have received technical support from the horticulture department and private sector organizations and they collaboratively launched the Chilly Cluster Development Program on 19 January 2023. The enthusiasm of the horticulture producers in this cluster and several other clusters led the Punjab government to set up a Project Management Unit (PMU), a Project Directorate for the day-to-day management of planned activities in the state.
Project Appraisal and Approval Committees will also be constituted to review the progress of the project. The Minister of Horticulture, Chetan Singh Jauramajra, giving his great ideas to take forward these new initiatives, said that through various schemes of the Punjab government, the horticulture department is also providing financial facilities in addition to technical information to increase the income of farmers.
Apart from this, farmers are being made aware through trainings/camps/seminars so that farmers can get more income from a small area of land. Honourable Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Kultar Singh Sandhawan, who was specially present at the event, explained the importance of this chili cluster and said that increased efficiency and technological integration in the value chain will further improve the quality of the produce in the domestic and international markets.
In addition, it will also help the farming community to reduce the cost of farming, provide opportunities for entrepreneurs, women and unemployed youth to participate in the value chain to set up agri-businesses.
On this occasion, Director Horticulture, Punjab Shalinder Kaur and Rajnish Kumar Dahiya (MLA Ferozepur Rural), Ranbir Singh Bhullar (MLA Ferozepur City) and Fauja Singh Sarari (MLA Guruharsahai),Amit Kumar, I.A.S. Joint Development Commissioner-cum-CEO P.S.R.L.M. Mohali was also present.