Dragon fruit, the latest addition to the State’s fruit basket, is creating ripples at Thannichal in the Pangode grama panchayat.
K. Vijayan, a local farmer, started growing the fruit on an experimental basis, but scaled it up to commercial levels after a good harvest. Today, the dragon fruit farm at Thannichal covers 15 acres and has different varieties.
On its part, the Pangode panchayat is hoping to become the first ‘dragon fruit panchayat’ in the State. The local body is encouraging every household to grow at least one plant. Cultivation has been kicked off in several wards, according to the district administration.
Native to the Americas, the dragon fruit had become a hit with farmers in Kerala who discovered that the climate in the State is suitable for its cultivation. With the fruit gaining popularity here, the State Horticulture Mission is now offering a per-hectare subsidy of ₹30,000 for its cultivation.
A big attraction for farmers is that the plant is easy to grow. A seven-foot column with a tyre atop it is fixed on the ground so that the dragon fruit vines can climb up. Up to six harvests are possible in a year on a single plant. A three-year-old plant produces around 25 fruits.
A single fruit weighs, on an average, 400 gm. Incidence of pest attacks on the plant is relatively low, which is a boon for farmers. The dragon fruit can also be grown in rooftop gardens. According to the district administration, numerous visitors drop in at the Thannichal farm to check out the fruit and savour the distinct taste.
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