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Can Apples Be Grown Outside Of Cold Areas? Two Tripuri Farmers Definitely Think So

When we think of red and juicy apples in India, our mind is immediately transported to the hills of Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir. The high altitude and the cold climate are seen to be conducive for its production, However, two indigenous farmers of sultry Tripura have set out to grow apples in the temperate zone of this North-Eastern state. Samaresh Debbarma (41) and Mujhesh Debbarma (29) are brother-in-laws who have set up the first apple orchard at Charilam in the state with the hopes that their dream of becoming entrepreneurs will come true.

This was possible because of the Internet. Samaresh Debbarma says that the idea for an apple orchard sprang up in his mind after he watched a Youtube video of a person cultivating apple in arid Rajasthan and Bihar. The person growing the fruit in Rajasthan is Hariman Sharma who was doing so in 48 degrees Celsius temperature. In the video Sharma, an acclaimed horticulturist, who originally started cultivating apples in Himachal, tells the viewers that the apple variety was being grown in many other states. “I noted down his number from the description of the video and contacted him in August 2018. After a few conversations, he sent me around 250 saplings of the apple. Sadly most of the plants died. Then I got in touch with another apple farmer in Kolkata named Gautam Mondal who sent me 80 saplings,” says Samaresh. He adds that the batch of plants from Kolkata survived and his orchard came to existence.

Samaresh Debbarma at his orchard

The apples they are growing are of ‘Anna’ variety, and the ‘Golden’ variety that can survive in hotter climates. Samaresh and Mujhesh already grew a batch of apples last year. This year they are hoping for a better crop. Before entering the venture, the two brother-in-laws grew rubber in the state.

The duo has already spent Rs. 6 lakh on consolidating the orchard. Most of it went on preparing the soil well so that it has many nutrients. They added a lot of cow dung to it. They also ensured that there are no weeds in the garden that would harm the saplings. For that they hired some workers. After much hard work, last year 11-12 plants bore fruits and this year the number has risen to 25. "We didn't really think too much about our plan of growing apples. The idea was realized on a whim. But after 4 years of working, we feel that there is a lot of scope for us," says Samaresh.

Tripura is a state where many delicious fruits are grown around the year. Whether it is juicy mangoes in summers or plump guavas in winters, the state is bestowed with fertile soil that adds to the sweetness of the produce. If apples grow well, it will bring additional income to the state's farmers.

This article has been created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.


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