Chasing a dream, he grew apples in this guava belt
Chasing the dream of owning an apple orchard in the district known for growing guavas – on a farmland he inherited a few years back – this 52-year-old farmer has successfully cross-bred Hariman-99 and Anna varieties of apples.Updated: Jun 21, 2020 11:06 IST
Apples – red, pleasantly crisp, sweet and juicy – hanging from tree after tree, but then this is not Himachal Pradesh, but Uttar Pradesh, and to be precise, Rampur village, around 45 km from Prayagraj, in the water-scarce, rocky trans-Yamuna area of Jasra development block.
The ‘miracle’ has been made possible because of the drive of a driver-turned-farmer of this Sangam city.
Chasing the dream of owning an apple orchard in the district known for growing guavas – on a farmland he inherited a few years back – this 52-year-old farmer has successfully cross-bred Hariman-99 and Anna varieties of apples. Now there are around 35 trees bearing the fruit of his labours.
“I inherited some land in Rampur village a few years back and decided to construct a house here around five years back. I had a thought that it would be perfect if I had an apple orchard near my house. However, when I discussed it with others, including my father, Keshav Bahadur Singh, a seasoned farmer, made fun of me,” Rudra Pratap said.
“At this time, I was working in Mumbai as a driver. In Mumbai, I came across a farmer from Shimla, who guided me a little on apple farming. Three years back I got 200 apple tree saplings of Hariman-99 and planted them on my farmland but they failed to flourish as I had hoped, Rudra Pratap said, who has just studied up to Class XII.
Undeterred, he took the advice of an apple farmer from Kashmir whom he ran into in Mumbai and decided to crossbreed the trees through grafting with an apple variety dubbed ‘Anna’. “This clicked instantly. The grafts flourished within a year.
Now, I have 35 trees with apples on them. Now, everyone is keen to visit my orchard and learn how to grow apples on their land. Even my 75-year-old father is helping me tend to the orchard,” said a beaming Rudra Pratap.
So what does he do to give his apple saplings the advantage to grow in this rocky village land located on the banks of River Tons. “To protect the trees from moths, mites and other pests, I spray a safe pesticide procured from the local Jari market once a month. I irrigate the trees once every three days to ensure that they have adequate water and humidity using a submersible pump. To protect the trees from the hot winds that blow during summers, I have planted banana trees all around the orchard and it seems to be working perfectly,” added Pratap, whose three children are in Mumbai, including two sons who are employed with a private firm and a daughter pursuing MBA.
Horticultural Experiment and Training Centre, Kushrubagh, chief horticulturist Krishna Mohan Chaudhary lauded the efforts of Rudra Pratap. “His efforts are praiseworthy. We have low chilling varieties of apples and efforts are on to grow them in plains, including UP. The quality of apples is judged by taste, texture and fragrance etc, and only after checking these apples on those parameters will we be able to determine the commercial value of the fruits,” he added.