Apples grown in Amtali village in Sepahijala district   Credit: EastMojo image

Agartala: Amid the fight against the deadly novel coronavirus aka COVID-19, two youths have successfully produced apples of different varieties in Amtali village council under Charilam RD block in Tripura’s Sepahijala district, around 30 km from state capital Agartala.

Speaking with EastMojo, Samaresh Debbarma (41) said that he and his partner Mujesh Debbarma (29) came across some YouTube videos which showed that apples can be grown even in high-temperature areas.

“We found that many states having high temperatures are growing apples of different varieties after which we started contacting experts. We then got in touch with Hariman Sharma Apple Nursery in Himachal Pradesh,” Samaresh said.

Hariman Sharma, also known as ‘apple man’ of Himachal Pradesh, developed HRNV-99 variety apple which can be grown in low altitudes at 1,800 feet above sea level and was conferred with the National Award in 2017 by former President Pranab Mukherjee.

The duo also contacted experts in West Bengal and purchased two other varieties of apple trees — Anna and Golden, in addition to HRNV-99.

“We purchased apple trees for Rs 350 each in three phases starting from the month of January last year. We have spent over Rs 5 lakh on the apple crop field and now it has started flowering. We hope that our hard work pays off,” Samaresh added.

Apples of three category — Anna, Golden and HRNV-99 — have been planted in the fields

Mitan Sarkar, another resident of Bamutia in West Tripura district, said that he too started the plantation two years ago and now his plants have started flowering.

“It is an achievement for our state and I would like to request the chief minister to help the youths in starting with such plantation so that more people can contribute towards the economy of the state,” Sarkar said.

Bamutia MLA Krishnadhan Das also visited the fields of Sarkar and appreciated his initiative of apple plantation in the state.

Speaking with EastMojo, Anjan Sen Gupta, senior scientific officer, directorate of the state biotechnology department, said that it was a very unique kind of trial on apple trees, which is perhaps a pioneering approach in Tripura since it is not common in this part of the country.

“A total of 250 apple trees are planted and divided into two parts; bio-inputs are applied on one part and the other part is kept as control. We have noticed that the part where bio-inputs are applied has shown an excellent result,” Sen Gupta said.

Out of the 250 trees, 40-60 trees started to blossom in the month of February. Of those blossomed trees, 15-20 apple trees started fruiting after approximately two weeks of flowering.

“Although there are some pest and disease infestation which is common among the field crops, regular monitoring has been done by the team of officials from the directorate of biotechnology and even guidance is provided through telephonic conversation to the beneficiary even in the midst of this countrywide lockdown to eradicate the problem,” Sen Gupta added.

Now, to get quality fruiting, potash solubilizing bio-fertilizer has been recommended by the department, along with neem and garlic based bio-pesticides, against insect and pest infestation in the apple trees, Sen Gupta said.

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