Agri Business

Farmers in South opt for dragon fruit cultivation to juice up profits

A J Vinayak Mangaluru | Updated on June 01, 2020 Published on June 01, 2020

The cultivation of dragon fruit is gaining momentum in the country, if the expansion of area under its cultivation is any indication.

Speaking at a webinar on ‘Prospectus in dragon fruit cultivation’, organised by the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) on Monday, G Karunakaran, Principal Scientist, and in-charge of the Central Horticultural Experiment Station (CHES) at Hirehalli in Tumakuru district, said that the area under dragon fruit cultivation, which was at 10 hectares during 2012, increased to more than 500 hectares in 2020.

He opined that the area under this exotic fruit is likely to reach around 10,000 hectares in 3-4 years.

Southern states are contributing a major share for the dragon fruit cultivation in the country. In fact, more than 500 farmers from Karnataka alone have taken up dragon fruit cultivation in the last three years after seeing the performance of the crop at IIHR’s demonstration plots, he said.

The fruit can be cultivated in southern and central parts of the country, and in north-eastern states also.

A farmer, who follows good cultivation practice, can get up to 1.5 tonnes of fruit per acre in the first year after planting, and up to 2.5-4 tonnes in the second year. Good cultivation practices can help get around 6-10 harvesting cycles in a year, he said.

Focus on marketing

Karunakaran said there is a need to focus on better marketing strategies to explore the potential of the domestic market. More awareness should be created among consumers about this fruit, he added.

Referring to the domestic demand, he said India has the capacity to consume nearly 70 per cent of the production.

He urged the farmers to create associations and farmer producer organisations to take the benefit of government schemes and to improve the market for the fruit in the domestic market.

Global market

On the potential of this fruit in the global market, he said Vietnam is the major producer of this fruit in the world earning a revenue of more than $1 billion. Around 90 per cent of the produce from that country is exported to different countries.

Vietnam’s success in dragon fruit cultivation is attributed to the round-the-year availability of the fruit.

Srinivasa Rao, a medical practitioner, and dragon fruit-grower from Hyderabad, said that Indian farmers will have to focus on supplying the fruit to the market throughout the year. He said he is planning to create an Amul-kind of a system to procure the fruit from farmers within a radius of 300 km from Hyderabad, and sell them with a brand name.

Karunakaran said Prasad, a farmer from Sira taluk of Karnataka, has taken up value-addition to the fruit. He is in the process of having buyback arrangements with farmers, if they take up dragon fruit cultivation even in 0.5-1 acres.

Published on June 01, 2020
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