This exotic fruit being cultivated in Rajarhat
The name ‘Dragon Fruit’ might conjure up several elements of fear, that of a fuming dragon pouring out flames of fire, but this unique fruit is one of the best nutritious and anti-oxidant fruit of the world. It is primarily an indigenous product of Central America. The fruit became highly popular after being exported to various Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines and Taiwan. In certain countries, they are called ‘fire dragon’ while some call it ‘sweet dragon.’
Now the good news is this Superfood Superfruit is being cultivated in parts of Bengal. Popularly known as Pitaya, it looks like a soft pineapple with spikes, and can have either pink, red or yellow skin and white or red flesh. The presence of adequate carbohydrate, calcium, iron, Vitamin C and protein makes these fruits highly nutritious. People can opt for this fruit to get respite from diabetes or other heart-related issues. According to many doctors, these also provide a relief from liver and stomach related ailments. The ever-increasing demand of these fruits has led to the cultivation of these through large acres of Rajarhat.
Several nurseries of Shikharpur are growing dragon fruit. The fruits are also highly profitable and hence brings good return to farmers. Once you plant these trees, it will bear fruits for the next 20-25 years. The prices are also very high. A kilogram of dragon fruit costs around Rs 400. The process of cultivation is also unique. An iron pole needs to be placed in the middle of four trees. A GI pipe’s iron ring or cycle ring is placed at the top of the pole. The trees are placed 5 feet above the ground and remain suspend in the air in and around the ring just like a fountain. The tree bears fruits within 18 months. Small red, white and yellow fruits are then born out of these flowers. But the red fruits are high in demand. These fruits remain fresh and intact even 10- 12 days after being plucked.
Even if one invests around Rs 600 for four fruits, the profits would be in a few thousands. The same soil and fertilizer can be used for harvesting various kinds of crops. Three years down the line, these trees can offer 15 to 20 kgs of fruits. The capacity of bearing fruits also increases around 40-50 kgs in five years. Bengal is indeed showing a new horizon to the art of cultivating exotic fruits with Dragon fruit cultivation as a new addition.