Published: Publication date – 14:49, Thu – 23 Jun 22
Jangaon: Fed up with growing traditional crops with little or no profit, several enthusiastic and enterprising farmers in the district are showing great interest in taking up the cultivation of exotic dragon fruit, thanks to the encouragement and financial support of the government of the ‘State.
One such farmer from Jeedikal village of Lingala Ghanpur mandal is reaping wealth through the cultivation of dragon fruit. Mylavaram Venkanna, an ideal farmer who is always willing to take risks, had grown dragon fruit on an acre of his land as the state government offered him a grant of Rs five lakhs on a pilot basis.
“I spent Rs 1.25 lakh, or 25% of the total input cost, out of pocket and grew dragon fruit on one acre. I got nearly four lakh in income from the crop last year,” Venkanna told ‘Telangana Today’. Before cultivating this exotic plant, he visited Vizianagaram and Nellore districts of Andhra Pradesh and Rajendranagar University of Agriculture to study the cultivation process. Venkanna said farmers can expect a yield of 25 to 30 years. The first yield would be after three years.
According to horticulture officials, the flowering and fruiting of dragon fruit coincides with the monsoon season. Its flowers are hermaphroditic (male and female organs in the same flower) in nature and open at night. Nocturnal agents such as bats and hawkmoths act as pollinators, and proper pollination ensures fruit set, size, and total fruit yield. Normally, flowering and fruiting occur in three to five segments from June to November. Fruits are ready to harvest 30-35 days after flowering.
Each fruit weighs around 200 to 700 grams, depending on management practices. In well-managed orchards, economic fruit yields begin after three years and the average yield can reach 15 tons per acre. On average, the farmer can earn an income of Rs eight to nine lakh per acre at least for 25 years, officials said. Growing dragon fruit requires no pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
“All we have to do is use organic manure from cattle manure,” Venkanna said. Nearly 2,000 saplings are needed for one acre of land. Four plants can be planted along the concrete posts and the distance between the posts should be eight feet. “I imported 2028 saplings from Vizianagaram and installed 504 poles with eight feed heights. By arranging the drip plant, I give irrigation once every 15 days,” he said. he said. District Horticulture Officer KR Latha said dragon fruit is grown on almost 35 acres in the district. “Dragon fruit requires very little attention for pests and diseases. , that’s why farmers are more interested in it,” she said.
Fruit prices vary from Rs 150 to Rs 200 per kg in retail markets. The prices on the market are very variable and depend mainly on the size of the fruits and the color of the pulp. Officials said dragon fruits were grown recently in Telangana. “Before last year, the subsidy was Rs 3.50 lakh per acre, and the subsidy amount dropped to Rs 1.50 lakh acre last year. This year, we haven’t gotten the sanctions yet,” the district horticulture officer said.
The Executive Director of Bala Vikasa, one of the leading NGOs working for sustainable agricultural practices including organic farming in South India, Singareddy Shoury Reddy said the soil and geographical conditions in Telangana are very conducive to the cultivation of this tropical fruit. . He said it is possible to grow dragon fruit on 10,000 acres in Telangana due to the current market demand. “Although the investment is high, the profits are also high,” he said, adding that chips, jam, juice and even wine are made from dragon fruit. “Dragon fruit wine is also made in Hyderabad,” he said.