Nagrota Surian turns into dragon fruit hotspot : The Tribune India

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Nagrota Surian turns into dragon fruit hotspot

Horticulture Department establishes front-line demonstration orchard for fruit cultivation

Nagrota Surian turns into dragon fruit hotspot

A dragon fruit plant being grown in a front-line demonstartion orchard in Nagrota Surian. Tribune photo



Rajiv Mahajan

Nurpur, May 20

The cultivation of dragon-fruit or strawberry pear, a potential cactus with high and early returns in water scarce areas, is attracting fruit-growers in the lower Kangra hills. The fruit with immense health and medicinal value is low in calories but high in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It contains healthy fatty acids and is considered good in heart health, immune system and digestion.

Prolific growth

Horticulture experts say a grower can harvest six crops of dragon fruit from mid-June to mid-December. Fruit flowering takes place six times a year and it takes around 35 to 40 days for fruit crop to flower subject to weather conditions. Flowering flush in the FLD orchards developed by the state Horticulture Department in Nagrota Surian area has begun in the second week of this month.

High medicinal value

The fruit with immense health and medicinal value is low in calories but high in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It contains healthy fatty acids and is considered good for heart health, immune system and digestion.

Ghar Jarot, a small village under the Nagrota Surian development block in Kangra district has become an epicentre for dragon fruit cultivation where the state Horticulture Department has established a cluster-based Front-Line Demonstration (FLD) orchard by planting 4,484 fruit plants in one hectare contiguous agricultural land of four local growers during August to September last year.

Information gathered by The Tribune reveals that before establishing the FLD orchard Jeevan Singh Rana, a retired school lecturer, and one of the beneficiaries, had cultivated 500 dragon fruit plants in his five canal agriculture land with the technical guidance and financial support of the state Horticulture Department in October 2020. He and his son Ashish Rana have adopted Subhash Palekar Natural Farming method in raising dragon fruit orchard.

Rana, a progressive fruit grower told The Tribune that he had earned a profit of Rs 1.50 lakh and Rs 2.50 lakh, respectively, in 2022 and 2023 by selling fruit yield in the local and outside markets. Apart from this, he has the distinction of being the first Himachal Pradesh government-registered dragon fruit nursery grower of the state and he has so far generated an additional income of Rs 2.50 lakh this year by selling around 3,000 dragon fruit saplings to the growers in Kangra, Bilaspur, Una and neighbouring Punjab areas. He exhorted the farmers to shift cereal cultivation to dragon fruit cultivation in areas facing water scarcity.

According to Kamal Sen Negi, Deputy Director, Horticulture Department, Dharamsala, dragon fruit is gaining popularity among fruit-growers in Kangra district because of its higher profitability, no threat of wild and stray animals and low maintenance. “Being a cactus, the best part of this crop is that it requires extremely less amount of water during the most critical period ie March to June and irrigation is applied only whenever there is prolonged dry spell,” Negi said. He claimed that the cactus fruit crop had multiple harvest in a year and capability to sustain high yield for more than 20 years whereas water scarce region could prove to be an asset to small land holders as it was one of the fastest returning perennial fruit crops having immense potential of low inputs and high returns.

#Kangra #Nurpur


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