Agartala: “It was just an experimental plantation that I started in the year 2017 with the first batch of dragon fruit plants I procured from Kolkata,” said Parimal Das, who was recently praised by Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb.
Parimal, 55, hails from Kanchanmala village, around 25 km from state capital Agartala in West Tripura district. He has successfully grown dragon fruits in his 1.5-acre farmland within 18 months by spending around Rs 15,000.
“Three years ago, I was watching random videos for farming tips on YouTube, when I came across the weird looking fruit called dragon fruit and asked my son Joydeb to help me in getting more information about this online,” Parimal said.
After getting some information about the fruit, Parimal decided to convert a portion of his 1.5 acre land of sweet lime (mosambis) and mango orchard to cultivate dragon fruits.
“I collected more information from the Internet and came to know that it has medicinal values. It has a very good market and anyone can grow the fruit using limited space in their agricultural land,” Parimal added.
Parimal received his first batch of dragon fruit plants from a supplier in Kolkata at a price of Rs 250 per piece and built eight concrete pillars and planted four plants on each pillar. He also set up a vermin-compost unit having capacity of 120 kg.
“I received support from everyone and soon decided to convert the entire orchard for dragon fruit plantation. Now, I have got 500 pillars, each of them has four plants having fruits and are ready to be harvested,” Parimal said with a smile.
Speaking about the plant and its use, Parimal said that once a plant starts flowering, the plant keeps on bearing fruits around the year. Around 20 kg of the fruit can be harvested from each plant which can be sold at a rate of Rs 400 per kg in the market.
Earlier, chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb took to Facebook and appreciated his initiative for successfully growing dragon fruits in his farm land.
‘Inspired by a YouTube video, he started his Dragon Fruit farm at Kanchanmala, West Tripura district in 2018 and got success in producing the fruit which has huge demand in domestic as well as in the international markets.
He is an inspiration to many other farmers and young agri-allied entrepreneurs who may also take such initiatives as both the State & the Central Governments have taken several initiatives under the leadership of PM Shri Narendra Modi to double the farmers’ income by 2022”, he wrote in his Facebook page.
Now with the plants ready for harvesting, Parimal is hopeful that the state government would help him to provide him a market for selling his produced items.
Parimal’s 21-year-old son Joydeb Das said that he and his relatives were clueless as to why his father was replacing the mango and mausambi plants with concrete pillars and watering the dragon fruit plants.
“After a year, when the plants started flowering and the dragon fruits started growing, we could see the results ourselves. Many people visit the orchard now to inquire and learn the process of cultivating the dragon fruit,” Joydeb said.
The dragon fruit, also known as pitahaya in Mexico and pitaya roja in Central America, is grown almost across the world in several states of Indian including West Bengal, Karnataka, and Maharashtra having medicinal values and high demand across the national and international markets.