KOLHAPUR: Anandrao Pawar from Tadsar village and Rajaram Deshmukh from Vangi village of Sangli district have become the first farmers to have got their dragon fruits of pink-white variety (pink skin and white flesh) exported from India.
A batch of exotic ‘Kamalam‘ fruit each weighing 50kg has been exported to Dubai.
The export of the dragon fruit, which is just 150 acres under cultivation in drought-prone areas of Sangli district, has raised the hopes of the farmers.
According to agriculture officials, the cultivation of the fruit is replacing the grape cultivation in the arid parts of the district.
Anandrao Pawar, age 78 years, was the first to dare grow the crop of cactus species on hilly terrains of Kadegaon tehsil.
Tasar is located around 500 meters above sea level. Pawar started the cultivation of dragon fruit six years ago.
“I replaced sugarcane crop with dragon fruit. Our region is located at a high elevation. Six years ago I took the information of cultivation of dragon fruit from a farmer from Satara’s dry arid area,” said Pawar.
He added that the crop requires less water as compared to sugarcane and grapes.
“I ensured to use organic fertilizers. The fruits of weight more than 300 grams were selected for export to Dubai. The organic farming practices helped us to achieve the weight and taste,” he said.
Inspired by Pawar, Rajaram Deshmukh, another elderly farmer from a neighboring village decided to take up dragon fruit farming.
Deshmukh has one and a half acres under dragon fruit cultivation and plans to expand to 5 acres by next year.
Basavaraj Mastoli, Sangli district’s agriculture superintendent said, “In last few years, the cultivation of dragon fruit in the dry arid areas is increasing. It is being cultivated in regions such as Atpadi, Jath and now Kadegaon. Many are preferring the crop over sugarcane which is water-intensive and grapes which is capital intensive. Also, the crop is turning out to be beneficial for the farmers earlier growing grains which are non-cash crops.”
There are three main varieties of dragon fruit — white flesh with pink skin, red flesh with pink skin, and white flesh with yellow skin.
The fruit contains fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It can help in repairing the cell damage caused by oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, and also improving the digestive system.
Since the fruit has spikes and petals resembling a lotus, therefore it is referred to as ‘Kamalam’.
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