Hyderabad: Ultra-high density mango plantations are the order of the day. Mango occupies a pre-eminent place amongst fruit crops grow in the State, and the area under its cultivation is close to 2.5 lakh acres, but the yields are not remunerative.
Addressing the factors contributing to low productivity of mango and other fruit crops, the State government has shouldered the task of promoting new horticulture practices. The growers are being given due exposure to hi-technology associated with high-density planting system. The Centre of Excellence for Fruit (COEFF) set up by the State government at Mulugu in Siddipet district has been doing a pioneering job in improving the tonnage of fruit crops, particularly in the case of mangoes.
Thanks to the innovative farm practices promoted by it, the centre has been rated as number one in the country by the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), State Commissioner for Horticulture, L Venkatram Reddy told ‘Telangana Today’.
Intensive cultivation practices promoted by the centre were giving farmers high yields with the top quality compared to conventional farming. The ultra-high density plantations would not only add up to the plant population per hectare but even open new opportunities associated with scientific methods of irrigation, nutrient management and overall orchard management, he said.
The Centre of Excellence for Fruit at Mulugu was set up in an area of 50 acres with an outlay of Rs 11 crore. It had taken up the demonstration of improved production practices in different fruit crops. The high-density and ultra-high-density precision farming proved by the centre proved to be a boon for sweet orange, guava and pomegranate also.
He said countries such as Brazil, China, Taiwan, Israel and even Pakistan were able to produce quality fruit to meet the growing demand in export markets, mainly the Middle East. The average yield of mango is only three tonnes per acre. It could be increased by seven to eight times by opting for intensive cropping patterns.
Since 60 per cent of the State area is red soil and its subtropical climate suitable for a majority of fruit crops, a shift from irrigation intensive paddy to horticulture is needed. The signature fruit crop of Telangana is Himayat variety.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao wanted the Horticulture Department to focus on fruit crops with particular emphasis on the king of the fruits, especially the Himayat variety. Instead of growing 40 plants per acre as was the case with the conventional practice, about 500 plants per acre were being grown under the new technology. The Centre of Excellence for Fruit had come up close to the new horticulture university. It is useful as a demonstration centre for students as well as farmers.
Farmers in the State started relishing the taste of big success with the new technology. In the days to come, Telangana would emerge as the largest fruit producer as well as exporter, he said.