Mancherial: They lost their father to Covid just a year ago, but they did not allow the tragedy to weigh them down. Instead, they decided to complete their father’s dream of cultivating dragon fruit in their two-acre farmland in Kannepalli, a remote mandal in the district. Incidentally, this was the first time that anyone has attempted to grow dragon fruit in the district, and succeeded.
Meet Jadi Sai Teja and his younger brother Vishwa Teja, the gritty duo who not only raised the fruit crop after their 49-year-old father Rajalingu’s death in May last but also took up the responsibility of taking care of their mother and paternal grandmother.
These two young siblings took care of the organic dragon fruit crop following their father’s sudden demise, and successfully harvested the fruit recently. In the process, the duo also emerged as role models for farmers in Mancherial district in raising alternative crops and make agriculture a profitable venture, something that Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao keeps harping on.
“My father was a government teacher by profession, an innovative farmer and a social activist. His death shocked us. But, we were determined to carry forward his legacy by cultivating dragon fruit started by him with an investment of Rs 8 lakh in 2019. We realised his dream of introducing Taiwan’s fruit to the locals at an affordable rate,” 21-year-old Sai Teja told ‘Telangana Today’.
Sai Teja, who holds a BA degree in Public Administration, said his father died when the crop was at flowering stage and could not even taste the ‘fruit’ of his efforts. “We harvested about 10 quintals of the nutritious fruit in the first crop,” he added. The duo has sold the fruit at Rs 100 to Rs 140 apiece in Mancherial market.
Stating that assisting his father in the fields since childhood had helped him, coupled with doing some online research about the fruit, Sai Teja said his aim was to take a shot at civil services examination, while 19-year old Vishwa Teja, who is pursuing engineering in computer science, also extends support to him in raising the crop while attending online classes.
He said they want to prove that not only commercial crops such as cotton, paddy, maize crops but even fruits can be produced in Telangana soils successfully if one adopts effective farming techniques and works sincerely. The dragon fruit crop can also be taken up as an intercrop, he said, adding that there was good money in cultivating this fruit.
“We are interested in creating awareness among farmers about fruit crops and organic farming. We are ready to share our experience with others who are interested in growing dragon fruit which can be harvested between 18 months and two years. The fruit can be picked every fortnight for six months after it reaches harvesting stage,” he explained.
Considering their success, Horticulture Department officials said proposals were being prepared to provide subsidies on the input cost of about Rs 5 lakh per acre. The facility would be introduced once higher authorities give their nod to the proposals, Supraja, Bellampalli Horticulture Officer said.
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