Mangaluru, (The Hindu): Pointing out at the absence of an apex body for fruit growers in the country, Ken Love, Executive Director, The Hawai Tropical Fruit Growers and internationally acclaimed fruit hunter, on Sunday stressed on the need to form India Tropical Fruit Association.
Speaking at a programme of fruit farmers at Meeyapadavu, about 30 km from here on the borders with Kerala, he said that such a body would help in sharing crop, product, marketing and technical information among domestic as well as foreign fruit farmers. It would help in getting funding for developing and maintaining germplasm.
Mr. Ken said that he is a member of many international tropical fruit associations, including the Japan Tropical Fruit Association and Israel Tropical Fruit Association. “I want to become a member of the India Tropical Fruit Association. But where is it,” he asked.
He said that it is not only essential to form such a body, may be, as a non-governmental organisation (NGO), but the need of the hour is to save some of the vanishing fruit varieties. He said that youth should come forward to take up fruit farming.
He said that educating consumers and getting self-educated on varieties of fruits is also important. For example, he said, many are not aware that there are about 390 varieties of pomegranates and about 300 varieties of oranges.
D.C. Chowta, founder, Chowtara Chavadi Agriculture and Cultural Foundation, which organised the programme, explained how he grew rambutan and mangosteen fruits as inter-crops in coconut plantation and how he marketed them locally.
Jacob Francis, who grows rambutan on a large scale near Uppinangady, said that the red variety rambutan is preferred by consumers very well. He said he cultivated N 18 and rongrien varieties of rambutan.
Mr. Francis said that unlike other plantation crops, the fruit business is not controlled by large corporates. Whereas the control of corporates could be felt in the marketing of arecanut, coconut, coffee and rubber. There only a few corporate players in the fruit business now. If pre and post-harvest methods are taken care of properly, fruit farming gave “reasonably good returns”, he said.
Shree Padre, Executive Editor, Adike Pathrike, a farm monthly, said that many farmers have now begun showing interest in fruit farming. Natraj Hegde, another fruit grower of Khajane Farms, near Perdoor in Udupi district, spoke.
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