Saturday, February 20, 2010

Kesar Mangoes Keri Talala Junagadh District News Gujarat India

In 1920, Gordhanbhai Sanghani was the first farmer to cultivate the Kesar Keri Variety in Talala town in Junagadh district, which is now known as the hub of one of the juiciest varieties of Kesar mangoes. Around a century later, his grandson Dayabhai has departed from the tradition and has begun cultivating cashewnuts — soon to be followed by other farmers.

Given the fact that this dry fruit fetches better returns than mangoes — with almost nil maintenance — it is fast catching up the attention of the other farmers. Little wonder, the land of juicy mangoes will soon be yielding cashew nuts.

“I have grown cashewnuts on 15 bighas and expecting the first yield. I plan to increase the cultivation area by 100 bighas,” said Dayabhai.

Jasmat Rola from Dhavagir village in Talala Taluka, has a similar story to tell. “I have grown cashewnut on 15 bigha that had turned almost barren. I got 600 saplings from the Konkan University,” he said.

Rola said many farmers have approached him for saplings and have decided to try the alternative to the kesar crop. “We at the Talala Marketing Yard are thinking seriously to set a systematic channel for marketing cashewnuts,” said Sardarsinh Chauhan, a member of the Talala Marketing Yard.

An official at the district horticulture department said the trend is picking up, but the crop cultivation is in the initial stage. The cashew trees yield fruits 10 years after the saplings are planted.

It was the frequent failure of the Kesar crop that forced the Talala farmers to look for an alternative.

“For more than a decade now, every alternate season, the mango cultivators have been facing problem of scanty yield due to unfavorable climatic conditions like less rains, unseasonal downpour or short winter season. Besides, maintaining a mango farm is an expensive affair. All these factors have forced farmers to look for other options,” said Chauhan.

“Growing cashew nuts is very different. The crop does not need plenty of water. Moreover, excessive heat or short winters do not affect it,” said Dayabhai.

But, cashew nuts cannot be an alternative for small-time farmers. “One needs to wait for at least 8 to 10 years to get the first yield. On the other hand, it can be cultivated even on barren type of land,” said Rola. Once the yield begins, a cultivator can expect at least 20 kg of cashew nuts per tree per season. As many as 40 trees can be grown on a bigha without much irrigation or use of pesticides or fertilizers.

Cashew nuts are not a regular crop in the state except in some parts of south Gujarat.

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