Express News Service
BERHAMPUR: When the going got tough for B. Ranjan Pradhan of Khallikote block in Ganjam district during the pandemic, he made the tough going by choosing to get into fruit cultivation. Today, not only has he earned appreciation as a successful Kashmiri Apple Ber farmer, he also looks forward to make it a viable income generating measure for many others in successive years.
An OSAP jawan in Boudh, Ranjan took up Kashmiri Apple Ber farming after a colleague suggested him in December 2020 to go for the fruit farming to augment his income when the pandemic struck.
A native of R.Bahadapalli village, Ranjan with over two acres of cultivable land, decided to take up Kashmiri Apple Ber farming despite the risk of climate which was far from being conducive to grow the fruit.
While brother Rabi and mother Sashi are full-time farmers, Ranjan used to occasionally assist them when he visited home. The family cultivated paddy and seasonal vegetables but when Covid broke out and restrictions came into place, income from farming started reducing.
Ranjan, after consulting some agriculture experts, decided to take the risk as the family’s savings were drying up. Along with brother Rabindra, he procured 600 Ber saplings from private farms and planted those on their two acre land in January 2021, reportedly spending around Rs 2 lakh in the process.
“We invested around Rs 2 lakh for the purpose. All saplings are showing a healthy growth and will be ready for harvest in 10 days,” said a delighted Rabindra.
Both the brothers shared that they have already contacted fruit dealers in Berhampur and other places for sale of the fruit. “Our Ber will start reaching them within a week and continue till February end,” they said.
As per the siblings’ estimate, each Ber tree having a life span of 10 years is expected to yield 10 kg to 15 kg of fruits in a year which totals up to around 9,000 fruits from all the saplings and will fetch Rs 90 to Rs 110 per kg.
Some people in the locality visited the farm on Sunday and tasted the fruit. Sidhartha Das, a retired horticulture officer, said,” Ranjan was in a dilemma whether the saline soil and climate will suit the cultivation. However, the fruit has not just brought solace to him but also encouraged other farmers to take it up.”
The duo has also sent samples to fruit dealers of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack with a hope to supply them. Meanwhile, deputy director of Horticulture department Sarat Chandra Behera congratulated Ranjan and Rabindra and said,”We will keep a watch on the yield for a year and if viable, we will promote the fruit cultivation in Ganjam.” He also assured the siblings of all possible assistance.