Visakhapatnam: After apples and strawberries, exotic dragon fruit has made a debut in Vizag Agency and Vizianagaram district in Andhra Pradesh.

Locally called `Pithaya,’ dragon fruit, a native of Central America has brought cheers to the farmers of Vizag and Vizianagaram districts in the state.

For the first time, the enthusiastic farmers witnessed the good yield of the fruit.

One cannot miss the bright pink of the dragon fruits peeking from the greens of Jestin Joseph’s farm who has successfully cultivated the crop in Anantagiri (Vizag Agency) and L Kota (Vizianagaram district).

The exotic dragon fruit, which was introduced in Vizag Agency in 2013 on an experimental basis, has been finally harvested in Vizag and Vizianagaram districts in 2020.

“Keeping in mind the demand for dragon fruit, we have started its farming in over four acres in Anantagiri and L Kota Mandals in Vizag and Vizianagaram districts. We planted white flesh variety (Alice White) in Vizag Agency and planted red flesh variety (Malaysian Red) in Vizianagaram district by investing around Rs 4 lakh to Rs 6 lakh per acre,” he said.

Finally, they harvested over 1.5 tonnes of fruit per acre in 2020. “We sold it for Rs 200 per kg in Vizag city,” said Joseph.

Dragon fruit, which is native to Central America, is high in nutritional value and contains anti-oxidants. A tropical and drought-resistant fruit, it is cultivated in few countries including Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Israel.

“Chintapalle area in Vizag Agency became popular for Apple and Strawberry fruit cultivation and now Anantagiri area in Vizag Agency and L Kota area in Vizianagaram district has gained popularity for the production of dragon fruit,” said D Sudhakar, a traveler from Vizag city.

Horticulture officer B Deepthi said few farmers who can afford the input cost have taken up this fruit cultivation in Bondapalli, Denkada, and L Kota Mandals in Vizianagaram district.

“The area under dragon fruit cultivation is over 14 acres and we are expecting that some more farmers may take up the cultivation in the coming days. The dragon fruit can be consumed directly or used to make jams, juices, and wine,” she said.

A few weeks ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the farmers of Kutch, Gujarat for taking up dragon fruit farming.  Modi said the fruit has gained popularity among Indians and farmers have resolved to reduce dependence on exports.

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