In a major boost to exports of exotic fruit, consignments of fiber and mineral-rich ‘dragon fruit’, sourced from farmers of Gujarat and West Bengal, have been exported for the first time to London, the United Kingdom, and the Kingdom of Bahrain. In India, dragon fruit is also referred to as Kamalam.
The consignment of exotic fruit exported to London was sourced from farmers of the Kutch region and exported by APEDA registered packhouse in Bharuch, Gujarat, while the consignment of ‘dragon fruit’ exported to the Kingdom of Bahrain was sourced from the farmers of West Midnapore (West Bengal) and exported by APEDA registered enterprises, Kolkata.
Earlier in June 2021, a consignment of ‘dragon fruit’ was sourced from the farmers of Tadasar village, Sangli district, Maharashtra and exported to Dubai by APEDA recognized exporter.
Production of ‘dragon fruit’ commenced in India in the early 1990s, and it was grown in home gardens. Due to high export value, the exotic ‘dragon fruit’ has become increasingly popular in recent years in the country. It has been taken up for cultivation by farmers in different states. There are three main varieties of dragon fruit - white flesh with pink skin, red flesh with pink skin, and white meat with yellow skin. However, the red and white flesh is typically being relished by the consumers.
Dragon fruit is mainly grown in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. West Bengal is new to taking up cultivation of this exotic fruit.
Scientifically referred to as Hylocereusundatus, the ‘dragon fruit’ is grown in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, the USA, and Vietnam. These countries are the major competitors for Indian Dragon Fruit.
The cultivation of dragon fruit requires less water and can be grown in various kinds of soils. The fruit contains fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. According to studies, it can help repair cell damage caused by oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and improve the digestive system. Since the fruit has spikes and petals resembling a lotus, it is called ‘Kamalam’.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had mentioned dragon fruit farming in the arid Kutch region of Gujarat in the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ program. He had congratulated the farmers of Kutch for cultivating fruit for ensuring India’s self-sufficiency in production.
APEDA is trying to export it to other European countries to get better price realization to the farmers of their produce. APEDA promotes agricultural and processed food exports by assisting the exporters under various components such as infrastructure development, quality development, and market development. The Department of Commerce also supports exports through multiple schemes like trade infrastructure for export schemes, market access initiatives, etc.