Moovandan to Miyazaki on a Malgoa in Cherai

Seventy-year-old Prasad has been mastering the craft of grafting and budding tree saplings over the past 25 years.
T S Prasad
T S Prasad

KOCHI: “The sight of a new stem sprouting from a new graft is what gives me energy at this age,” says T S Prasad as he caresses the mother Malgoa mango tree. The tree now bears fifty different kinds of mangoes. Seventy-year-old Prasad has been mastering the craft of grafting and budding over the past 25 years. What began as a spare-time engagement while he ran a tyre business is now a full-fledged profession.

“After observing an acquaintance skillfully bud rose plants, I eagerly asked if he could teach me the process. Disappointingly, he declined my request. Undeterred, I sought guidance from another expert, eventually picking it up,” Prasad explains how the hobby took root.

His first attempt was on a rose plant that bloomed flowers in two colours. “I displayed it in my tyre shop. After that, I grafted twenty-four different varieties of roses onto one plant,” Prasad says.

This triumph led him to wonder if he could achieve similar results with his Malgoa mango tree.

Why? Prasad is concerned that the trees that produce the indigenous mango varieties will sooner or later be cut down. “The exquisite flavour of these mangoes is something that simply cannot be expressed through words. I’m passionate about ensuring that the generations to come have the opportunity to savour them,” he says.

On each branch of the mother Malgoa tree, you can find several varieties of the fruit, ranging from those exotic to Kerala, such as the Neelam, Moovandan and Sindhooram, to the Japanese Miyazaki, which can fetch good prices.

Prasad has shut his tyre shop and now runs a business selling mango tree saplings from his house. He sells at least 30 saplings every month, tailoring each to meet the specific needs and tastes of his customers.

He also shares his expertise by accommodating requests from people in and out of Ernakulam who express interest in learning the intricacies of the craft.

“People mistake that it’s magic. It’s not. I don’t have a special talent for this technique either. If I can do it, anyone can. It’s just a matter of interest and effort,” says Prasad. He adds that it’s mostly people from the 60-plus category who approach him for assistance.

Prasad also underscores the numerous benefits of spending time around plants for one’s mental well-being. “The presence of plants provides an exceptional means to alleviate stress. Also, the positivity derived from engaging in this activity is immeasurable,” he adds.

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