Visakhapatnam: Dragon fruit, which is native to Central America, is making its way into Andhra Pradesh at Vizag. After apples and strawberries now another exotic variety — Dragon fruits which are also called Pithaya for the first in the state are being grown in Vizag Agency. These exotic fruits which also have high nutritional value are also being supplied to giant retail chain stores like Spencers, Walmart, and Hyper. India imports 98 per cent of the Dragon fruits from countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Dragon fruit was first introduced in Chintapalli in Vizag Agency in 2013 in an area of two acres on the experiential basis to study the suitability for commercial cultivation. “Due to excess rainfall during Hudhud cyclone on October 12, 2014, plants were affected. The results envisaged that Dragon fruit can be successfully cultivated in tribal areas of Vizag with the best quality fruits of a very big size of more than 400 gm even up to 500 gm by weight. Whereas the imported fruits of around 300 gm per fruit only. The shape is oval, rich in sugars as per organo liptic evaluation. The fruits have a good taste, sweet, crisp, rich in antioxidants, said head and senior scientist of Dr YSR Horticulture University’s Chintapalle research station, Dr C. Chandarsekhar Rao.
The scientist added that a farmer T. Vijay Sri Ram first introduced the Dragon fruit in Chintapalle and after the success of the crop the farmer had gone to a plain area and started cultivating in eight acres now.
“By growing Dragon fruits locally, the country can save valuable foreign exchange spent on importing and also promote exports to Europe and American countries. The academic bearing of this cactus is about 15 to 20 years and this can be manipulated by providing better-growing conditions and also nutritional support,” he added.
The yield of the fruit that has bland taste is around 20 to 30 tonnes per annum per acre. Interestingly flowering takes place only in the nights and have a yield of six times in a year. A kilo is sold at `400 in the open market. Dragon fruit needs dry climate to grow which is available in Vizag Agency. If the fruit is grown in 1000 acre it will boost the local economy as the fruit has a lot of export potential, Dr Chandrasekhar added....