Dragon Fruit; Its Potentiality and Income Oppurtunity
Dragon Fruit is tropical fruit that has become increasingly popular in recent years even in India. Its unique look and taste attract people to consume this fruit. But it is also nutritious and healthy.
Dragon fruit grows on the Hylocereus cactus, also known as the Honolulu queen and its unique quality is that the flowers of this fruit tree only opens at night.
It goes by many names which include pitaya and pitahaya was derived from Mexico and Pitaya roja in Central America and northern South America, the fruit may also be known as a strawberry pear.
The most widely available variety of dragon fruit has white pulp with black seeds, red pulp with black seeds is less common but still, it exists. Its taste slightly sweet cross between kiwi and pear.
The fruit contains Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants. It can help to repair the cell damage caused by oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, and also improve the digestive system. It is also rich in Vitamin C, consumption of 100g fresh dragon fruit provides about 8- 14% RDA of vitamin C.
The dragon fruit was first introduced to home gardens in India in the 1990s. It has gained popularity over the years due to lower inputs required in growing and the farmers also earn a good profit out of the production. The plant sustains yields for more than 20 years.
It has gained more attention among the farmers of India due to gaining popularity and fewer resources required for the production over the years. In states like Karnataka, Maharastra, Andra Pradesh, West Bengal, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Gujarat, Andaman, and the Nicobar Islands, and even in some parts of North Eastern States the cultivation of dragon fruit takes place considering the climatic condition of these states.
Dragon fruit requires sandy loam with high organic matter and grows well in soil having good drainage. The cultivation also requires full sunlight open area, the shady areas are not suitable for the cultivation of dragon fruit.
The Dragon fruit plants are fast-growing vines and produce more thick dense branches during the initial stage. The branches should be trimmed and strong support should be given to the branches to grow efficiently. The well-grown vines may produce 30 to 50 branches in one year.
In the recent past, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that the fruit would now be called Kamalam, which means lotus in Sanskrit.
According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in June 2021, India has exported the first consignment of dragon fruit to Dubai.
"A Consignment of Dragon Fruit for exports was sourced from the farmers of Tadasar village, Sangli district, Maharastra, and it was processed and packed at APEDA recognized exporter M/s Kay-Bee," said the ministry. APEDA or Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority promote exports of agricultural and processed food products by assisting the exporters under various components such as infrastructure, quality, and market development.
A recent study by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research- National Institute of Abiotic Stress Management, Baramati Maharastra showed that 3000-4000 hectares of land in various states of India cultivate Dragon Fruit. Approximately 12,000 tonnes of fruit are produced every year.
According to G.Karunakaran, Principal Scientist at Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (ICAR-IIHR) dragon fruit production began in India as a hobby in the 1990s but it was restricted to home gardens. "It was not done on a large scale at that time and was restricted to gardening as people were apprehensive about its growth since it is a cactus. It was started on a mass scale by the Scientists of North Bengal University in 2013 after they informed the farmers about its potentialities and income opportunities" Karunakaran told to Mongabay India.
Therefore, it has been noted an increase in the cultivation of dragon fruit in India will bring huge opportunities for the farmers and also reduce the import of the fruit. However, due to its availability and lesser price, it becomes easily affordable for the poor and gives them nutritional benefits as well.
The Government of Maharastra has taken initiative to promote dragon fruit cultivation in the different parts of Maharastra by providing good quality planting resources for its cultivation and subsidies are also given through the Mission on Integrated Development of Horticulture.
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