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Singhbhum duo pack a mandarin fruit punch

- Agriculture council impressed with Purty’s orange effort, sees huge potential

Ranchi, Nov. 25: Mandarin oranges from Singhbhum could soon give the Nagpur variety a run for their money, now that a national agricultural think tank has been smitten by the efforts of two brothers who expect a bumper harvest from the 100 plants they have so enthusiastically nurtured over the year.

Benjamin and Ignis Purty tried out their plan last year, no doubt on the hunch that the citrus tree, known to be more drought tolerant than the fruit, would thrive in the tropical climes of the region. They were right!

They planted a few trees and mandarin fruits, resembling other oranges, grew abundantly, prompting them to extend their experiment with more plants this year. Now they are waiting for the fruits of their labour in February-March next year. Bikash Das, a fruit scientist at the Plandu eastern region research complex of Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR), is mighty impressed.

“I visited the Purtys in West Singhbhum district recently and found both the brothers growing mandarin in their land. It was not only a learning experience for me, but I was also surprised to see their dedication and hard work. After all, they were the ones who took the initiative,” he said.

Now, ICAR has decided to provide technical support to them and other progressive farmers like them for cultivating the citrus fruit resembling other oranges, besides making out a case in its favour to the state government. Taking a cue from the Purtys, Jharkhand State Horticulture Mission has planted over 50,000 trees in West Singhbhum district covering 200 hectare.

Das was confident that farmers could increase the area of mandarin cultivation to other parts of the state with a little help from the government. “We will request the state government to boost mandarin cultivation, considered to be one of the more lucrative farming options for farmers,” he said, promising to plant a few saplings in the ICAR complex soon and lead by example.

Purtys are expecting a good yield in February-March 2013.

“A single plant will bear a quintal of mandarin oranges. Talking to them about their visit to Nagpur, the orange city of India, we came to know that the Nagpur variety is considered to be one of the best mandarins in the world,” Das added.

Given that it grows in tropical and sub-tropical regions, Daltonganj, too, would be conducive for mandarin farming which requires a calcium-enriched soil. Singhbhum Gramodyog Vikas Sansthan has also chipped in to promote mandarin cultivation. “We have decided to apprise farmers about the advantages of growing mandarin along with plants like sagwan, shesahm and gambhar in the peripheries so that they can make additional money,” said secretary Bipin Deo, who visited the Purtys with Sinha.

Mandarin oranges come for Rs 60 per kg and presently brought from Nagpur. While the Purtys are already selling small quantities in Rourkela, once the state horticulture mission steps in, volumes could increase.

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