Rs 75 per fruit; Mexican dragon fruit gaining popularity in Kerala
Malappuram: Though the name sounds a little scary, dragon fruit is an attractive option for the farmers due to its high price. One fruit costs Rs 75 and it has gained star value all over Malappuram. The Mexican fruit is also attractive with its unique shape and colour.
Vattallur native Ummarkutty is cultivating dragon fruit on 2-acre land. The orchard is named as Green Valley. Though people grow a few dragon fruit plants in gardens out of curiosity, this is for the first time it is cultivated on a large scale. Ummar started farming dragon fruit after trying many other crops since he returned from Gulf 8 years ago.
Soon he proved that the plant which usually grows in deserts can flourish in Kerala also. Dragon fruit has about 65 varieties. Among them, Ummar has the varieties which grows in 15 different countries. Once planted, the tree has a life of about 25 years. The plant needs to be watered only twice a week.
Dragon fruit is a good source of energy and is rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, calcium, sodium and protein. As it has low sugar content, diabetic people also can consume it. The fruit is cultivated in Vietnam and Cambodia. It is imported to Kerala from Vietnam.
The tree blooms by the end of March and the fruit ripens within 28 days. It gives fruits till October. Fruits are available in red, yellow, white and violet colours. Among them, yellow variety is sweeter than others. Only organic fertilizers are required for dragon fruit and is rarely affected with diseases.
People from all districts in Kerala and other states come to Ummar's farm seeking dragon fruit saplings. Ummar said that many people prefer to cultivate dragon fruit over rubber these days. As many expats are returning jobless, dragon fruit farming can be a popular source of income here, Ummar said.