Dragon fruit, native to Central and South America, was once only found on store refrigerated shelves. Justin Joseph began a dragon fruit growing quest on three acres of land in Ananthagiri, some 90 kilometres from Visakhapatnam, with the goal of bringing this fruit to the local markets and making it freely available.
A visit to this dragon fruit farm in Ananthagiri provides insight into super fruit production methods as well as a taste of adventure. A modest stretch of farmland in Ananthagiri, set among the beautiful green hills and valleys of the Eastern Ghats, is paving the way for sustainable dragon fruit cultivation. Dragon fruit, native to Central and South America, was once only found on store refrigerated shelves. Justin Joseph began a dragon fruit growing quest on three acres of land in Ananthagiri, some 90 kilometres from Visakhapatnam, with the goal of bringing this fruit to the local markets and making it freely available. Jestin, an Adventure Sports and Corporate Leadership Instructor, had been working for the social welfare of tribal tribes in the Ananthagiri area for the previous few years. Jestin stated “Pepper and coffee are often farmed in this region. However, while investigating these, I learned about dragon fruit, its low cost, and how it has developed as a mega crop in India in recent years.”
The story of Jestin
Jestin is an adventure sports teacher, and corporate leadership trainer, and works on tribal development for humanitarian reasons, but he chose to try his hand at farming in 2017. Justin began farming on a two-acre plot and eventually grew to nine acres. The farmer attributes this quick increase to the commercial success he achieved by growing the exotic plant. “I harvest roughly four tonnes per acre, and the fruit sells in the wholesale market for Rs 100 per kg.” This season, he got Rs 4 lakh per acre. Apart from strong returns, Jestin claims that the crop requires little upkeep and has lower infection rates.
Jestin, on the other hand, had to brave storms before he could enjoy easy sailing. There aren’t many farmers in the area who grow unusual fruits. There was a lack of competence to seek assistance if necessary. Dragon Fruit is mostly a North American cactus creeper. He claims that excessive rainwater ruined the crop at first.
He adds that four years ago, he lost 4,000 plants worth Rs 2 lakh in the first year with no technical understanding. Watering is required once every five days during growth and once every three days during harvest. That year, it poured almost every day. When the crop became infected with fungus, he claimed, “I had no solution.” Termites attacked the fungus, killing the plants in four days.
The farmer claimed that after conducting research, he discovered that a one-rupee blade was the solution to the problem. He went on to say, “All I had to do was cut out the infected section and let the wound dry in the sun.” He claims that there is no need to put fungicide or insecticide on the plant.
The dragon fruit farm
The peak season for dragon fruit crops is from May to November when there are four big crop output waves. Jestin is currently developing two dragon fruit varieties: Alice White and Malaysian Red. These are the most prevalent types, and they are in high demand in the local market. He claims that Alice White yields more than the red type, with a yield of roughly eight tonnes per acre. He is currently working on establishing a sapling nursery.
Jestin has constructed an adventure park with a variety of activities to make family visits to the farm more pleasurable. Visitors can zip across the dragon fruit farm field or try sky cycling from a height of 20 feet above the ground. Other attractions include vertical climbing, a low ropes course, a high net area, trampolines, and boating for children. Plan a stay at the hanging pods in the field during the monsoons for the ideal way to enjoy the field and the adventure park.