BHAWANIPATNA: If accessing the marketplace has been a challenge during the prevailing pandemic which brought in lockdowns and shutdowns, 30-year-old Vaishnava Charan Sahu, son of a small farmer in M Rampur block of Kalahandi went to door steps of people to deliver dragon fruits which he grew locally.
By reaching the customers’ homes, Vaishnava is selling the fruit for Rs 300 per kg against a market price of Rs 400 - Rs 500. Regular customers can also pick up their stock from his house. His customer base includes areas like M Rampur, Kesinga and Karlamunda blocks in the district, along with Tushra of Balangir.
An ISKCON devotee, Vaishnava belongs to Bamak village where he raised his own plantation. He chanced upon the idea of growing dragon fruit while he was on a pilgrimage to Dwarka in 2018. “I had a feeling that the not-so-regular fruit’s commercial production will have a lucrative prospect in Odisha. The unfamiliar fruit will attract a customer base here owing to its unique taste,” he said.
During his spiritual sojourn, he had come across dragon fruit plantations and was drawn towards knowing more about its cultivation. A matriculate but with basic knowledge about agriculture, courtesy his farming background, Vaishnava stayed back for two months to learn about intricacies of dragon fruit cultivation - a popular fruit across Gujarat and Maharashtra - and returned with 1000 saplings which he bought at Rs 100 per piece.
Convinced that the fruit will be sought after back home, he made use of 20 decimals of his land for the purpose. In July, Vaishnava harvested around 1.5 quintal of dragon fruit from the first batch. While he started off with an investment of Rs 1.5 lakh (including fencing and drip irrigation), he expects a profit of Rs 5 lakh per annum. “The fruiting will go on for two decades. I hope to expand the cultivation over one acre in November” says a hopeful Vaishnava who shares tips to grow the fruit to interested customers who throng his orchard now.