SAMBALPUR: Climatic barriers proved no deterrent for Kuchinda’s Umakanta Kaudi who has started reaping gold with Himachal varieties of apple in less than two years.
In his thirties, Umakanta is into fruit farming after leaving his job at a private company in 2018. And he has been successful in his endeavour.
He left his job and returned to his village, Gambhiramunda, to try his hands at farming.
One of his elder brothers Tankadhar Kaudi is into paddy farming on five acre of land while another, Rankadhar, works at coalmines in Chhattisgarh.
It was from YouTube videos that Umakanta realised he could grow apples in his backyard, agro-climatic difference notwithstanding.
Over the next few months, he searched for options and decided to go for Himachal varieties which usually grow in cold weather.
He came to know that the fruit can also be grown in areas with temperature up to 45-50 degrees with a little intensive care, given the soil type is suitable.
More research later, he found out that the soil in his backyard garden may be fit for apple farming as it retains good moisture. He contacted a supplier from Himachal Pradesh online and ordered 50 saplings.
“Each sapling cost Rs 360 including shipping. The supplier assured me that it can grow in climatic conditions of my village. However, he also warned me the crop might take up to three years to yield fruit,” Umakanta said.
He planted the saplings in December, 2018 and surprisingly, the trees started to flower in January last. A few months ago when he saw the fruits, his joy knew no bounds. Until last month, Umakanta got around 8-10 kg from each of his trees.
However, instead of marketing his produce, he distributed it among the villagers for trial. The fruit usually grows between January and July and in the last phase of fruiting now. Now, Umakanta is happy to have proved the villagers wrong. “When I told the villagers about my idea, I was mocked.
"However, one of our fellow villagers, Anand Naik was supportive from the very beginning. Naik and my elder brother Tankadhar guide me since they are into farming,” he revealed.
The young farmer noticed that apple crop does not need much maintenance if the soil quality is good but is vulnerable to pests.
Also the nutrient requirement of apple trees are high due to the hot weather for which which he uses a high amount of manure and compost.
He devotes at least six hours every day for maintenance of his trees. His brothers assist him to take care of the orchard.
Umakanta now knows the amount of care the fruit crop needs. “Feedback from people has now been positive. I am thinking of marketing the apples from next year. I want to expand my orchard subsequently.” He aims at having an orchard with 500 apple trees.