Vizag will shortly become a hub for many rare crops in the region owing to its excellent fertility. The area is suitable for crops like apples, strawberry, grapes, pepper, basmati rice and organic coffee, and now another exotic variety — Dragon fruits which are also called Pithaya for the first in the state are being grown in Vizag Agency.
STRAWBERRY CULTIVATION IN VIZAG AGENCY
Andhra Pradesh Micro Irrigation Project director Ram Mohan told that the climate in Agency areas in the district is suitable for strawberry cultivation. At present, the fruit is supplied by traders from northern states and is selling anywhere between Rs.100 and Rs.125 per kg.
The Horticulture Department is willing to extend all help and make all subsidies and incentives available for other horticulture crops applicable to them. ITDA is cultivating the fruit in Padmapuram gardens in Araku Valley for over a decade. The garden strawberry called Fragaria and Annanassa is a common hybrid species that is cultivated worldwide. The fruit is widely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness. It is consumed in large quantities, either fresh or in prepared foods such as preserves, fruit juice, pies, ice creams, and milk shakes. Artificial strawberry aroma is also widely used in many industrialized food products.
Fruit grown locally can be sold for Rs.50 for local consumption. Fruit processing companies and even exporters are willing to have a tie-up with farmers only if plantations are raised on a commercial scale.
DRAGON FRUIT TO DEBUT IN ANDHRA PRADESH
Dragon fruit, which is native to Central America, is making its way into Andhra Pradesh at Vizag. These exotic fruits which also have high nutritional value are also being supplied to giant retail chain stores like Spencers, Walmart, and Hyper. India imports 98 percent of the Dragon fruits from countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Dragon fruit was first introduced in Chintapalli in Vizag Agency in 2013 in an area of two acres on the experiential basis to study the suitability for commercial cultivation. “Due to excess rainfall during Hudhud cyclone on October 12, 2014, plants were affected. The results envisaged that Dragon fruit can be successfully cultivated in tribal areas of Vizag with the best quality fruits of a very big size of more than 400 gm even up to 500 gm by weight. Whereas the imported fruits of around 300 gm per fruit only. The shape is oval, rich in sugars as per organo liptic evaluation. The fruits have a good taste, sweet, crisp, rich in antioxidants, said head and senior scientist of Dr. YSR Horticulture University’s Chintapalle research station, Dr. C. Chandarsekhar Rao.
“By growing Dragon fruits locally, the country can save valuable foreign exchange spent on importing and also promote exports to Europe and American countries. The academic bearing of this cactus is about 15 to 20 years and this can be manipulated by providing better growing conditions and also nutritional support,” he added.The scientist also added that a farmer T. Vijay Sri Ram first introduced the Dragon fruit in Chintapalle and after the success of the crop the farmer had gone to a plain area and started cultivating in eight acres now.
Dr. Chandrasekhar acknowledged that the yield of the fruit that has bland taste is around 20 to 30 tonnes per annum per acre. Interestingly flowering takes place only in the nights and has a yield of six times in a year. A kilo is sold at `400 in the open market. Dragon fruit needs dry climate to grow which is available in Vizag Agency. If the fruit is grown in 1000 acre it will boost the local economy as the fruit has a lot of export potential.
Visakhapatnam Agency Apples photos