One Day Webinar on Farmers’ Constraints in Dragon Fruit Cultivation held on September 01, 2020
The ICAR–National Institute of Abiotic Stress Management (NIASM), Baramati organized one day national webinar on “Farmers’ Constraints in Dragon Fruit Cultivation” on 1st September, 2020. The aim was to know the status of dragon fruit cultivation; identifying the farmers’ constraints and their views on dragon fruit cultivation; also to shortlist researchable and policy issues, as super crop for drought prone semi-arid regions of the India.
Dr. Himanshu Pathak, Director, ICAR-NIASM and Chairman of webinar, highlighted the increasing interest in dragon fruit cultivation in India in his opening remarks. He also emphasised that the import of this fruit is more than the production of the same in India. For bridging this gap he suggested standardisation of cultivation practices and enhancing the awareness about the crop through bulletin. He further suggested addressing constraints and policy issues related to dragon fruit cultivation. He called for joint efforts from scientists and farmers to identify researchable issues related resource management technologies and improvement of varieties suitable for processing, value addition and marketing of dragon fruit.
The webinar started with an overview and welcome address by Dr. Goraksha C. Wakchaure, Sr. Scientist, ICAR-NIASM and followed by brief introduction about the speakers by Dr Kamlesh K. Meena, Sr. Scientist, ICAR-NIASM. The webinar included expert’s lectures, farmer’s views and discussions on various aspects of dragon fruit. Dr Madhukar V. Potdar, Consulting Agronomist-Commercial Farming, Maharashtra and Former-Agronomist, ICRISAT, Hyderabad gave an detailed information about the status of production and global trade of Dragon fruit. Dr. G. Karunakaran, Principal Scientist and I/C Head CHES Hirehalli, IIHR, Bengaluru outlined the progress achieved in understanding Dragon fruit as a beneficial crop agro-ecologically challenged area. He highlighted need for packaging and marketing strategies for better remuneration for farmers. Dr. Shrikant S. Kulkarni, Horticulturist, Department of Horticulture, MPKV, Rahuri briefed about efforts of state agriculture University in propagating benefits of Dragon fruit for marginal farmers under dry land conditions. Progressive farmers, Shri. Rajendra Deshmukh and Shri Ajinkya Taware expressed their opinions about how dragon fruit farming can be an alternative to the commercial farming of grapes and sugarcane. The other farmers were also shared their experiences about constraints and opportunities in dragon fruit cultivation.
Overall webinar highlighted the scope for enhancing dry land productivity and farmers income with dragon fruit as a promising crop. It was felt that the farmers and entrepreneurs need to be supported by dragon fruit planting material, package of cultivation, value addition and processing and marketing. Most of the progressive farmers and entrepreneurs suggested that ICAR-NIASM should be the nodal organisation for addressing researchable and policy issues to the Government of India for the dragon fruit. They suggested to provide literature and package of practices for this new crop which has great potential to enhance income from land prone to water scarcity.
The webinar provided an opportunity to listen to the experts and progressive farmers for more than 510 participants which included dragon fruit farmers, scientists, entrepreneurs and students across the nation. Guidance and support of Dr. Jagadish Rane, Principal Scientist and Head SDSM, and help extended by Dr. Mahesh Kumar, Scientist and Er. Pravin More, Sr. Tech Asst. for successful organisation of webinar is duly acknowledged.
The webinar concluded with closing remarks of Director NIASM who emphasised an immediate action to develop training module and package of practices for profitable dragon fruit farming and entrepreneurship.
NIASM has following action point to meet the expectation of dragon fruit farmers and entrepreneurs.
- Preparation of Status Paper on dragon fruit covering national and international scenarios and researchable issues to promote dragon fruit cultivation in India
- NIASM and IIHR will jointly prepare package of practices and policy framework for dragon fruit in different agro-ecological conditions under a collaborative network project
- Preparation of a database of dragon fruit famers, entrepreneurs and associated scientists
- Preparation of Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ) and existing answers
- Initiation of research experiments to address diminishing fruit size and quality
- Dragon Fruit News Letter to be published on website of NIASM