Avocado, dragon fruit likely to grow in Jharkhand as BAU starts pilot project | Ranchi News

RANCHI: If all goes well, Jharkhand may soon be able to grow avocado in a few years as the state’s premier agriculture institute — Birsa Agriculture University (BAU) — has laid the ground work for setting up a small orchard at its campus in Kanke for growing the nutrient-rich fruit on a pilot basis.
Talking to TOI on Sunday, chairman of BAU’s department of horticulture and associate dean of the horticulture college Dr K K Jha said around 15 plants have been sown in their nursery and they have ordered 20 more from Kolkata to set up an orchard in the campus. “We zeroed in on this plan when our vice chancellor Onkar Nath Singh asked us a few weeks ago about growing the fruit here. Although avocado has its origin in Mexico, Jharkhand’s climate seems suitable and so we decided to plant it on an experimental basis,” he added.
Belonging to the Lauraceae plant family, it takes four to five years for the plant to bear fruits and the plant’s average life ranges from 25 to 30 years, depending on the care it receives and the area’s climatic conditions. “A temperature of around 30-35 degrees Celsius is required to grow avocado and ours is best suited for growing the plant. As far as water is concerned, initially it requires a good amount but that requirement lessens gradually. Given the normal average rainfall of over 1,000mm in Jharkhand, the conditions are favourable for growing the fruit here,” Jha said.
Avocado is loaded with Vitamins C, E, K and B-6 and it is rich in riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium and potassium. Besides having therapeutic value, the fruit is rich in lutein, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids.
Meanwhile, BAU is conducting a similar experiment with dragon fruit, the demand for which has surged in India in the wake of the outbreak owing to its immense nutritional value. Jha said that they had begun the pilot project with 200 plants over a year ago.
“The plants will start bearing fruits in a few months time,” he added.
He further said that both avocado and dragon fruit have the potential to give a boost to the local economy where the cultivation of cash crops is scarce. “Both these fruits are expensive and new in India. It’s time Jharkhand takes the lead in their production with effective planning and by giving financial support to the farmers,” he added.

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