As people are now more health-conscious than ever, demand for low-sugar fruits has been increasing. One of the fruits that have seen a massive rise in demand in India is Dragon fruit. It was first introduced to India some years back due to its low sugar content and nutraceutical properties. Apart from being suitable for people who are following a weight maintenance routine, the fruit is delicious. There are two varieties in the dragon fruits that are seen in the Indian market: A red flesh fruit and white flesh fruit. Both types have the same taste and are cultivated the same way.
Dragon fruit is a fruit from the climbing vine-like cacti species from the family of Cactaceae. The fruit generally has a white flesh with edible black seeds. The plant has beautiful flowers and juicy fruits. Initially, the fruits for the Indian market were imported from Vietnam, but after thorough research on the plant, many farmers started cultivating the plant in different regions of India. Unlike many fruits, dragon fruits can be cultivated in less-water and less fertile soil. The plant also starts yielding early. The first harvest can be done after 15 months while the best and efficient yield is obtained after three years of production.
Another major factor that drives the increased cultivation of this crop is that it is a low-maintenance crop. There is a requirement of investing four to five lakhs per acre which is comparatively low. As it is a climbing cactus, it can grow on the concrete pillars. Other frames have been tested to see if the plant can grow in such conditions. The most preferred way, however, for growing the plants is on pillars. About 1800 plants can be grown on 450 pillars in one acre. The plants are photosensitive and need appropriate sunlight and flower at night.
The optimal time to harvest the fruits is between May-September. The average yield for the dragon fruit is 5-6 tonne per acre. Currently, the market price is approximately Rs.200 per kg. Initially, when the dragon fruits were imported in limited quantities to India, the prices were as high as Rs. 350 per kg. Due to its increased demand, the import was increased by 20 times and the lowest price for the fruit was Rs. 100 per kg. However, the price for the fruit has been in the range of Rs.100 to Rs.350 for two years. Lower rates were due to the decrease in the transportation cost of the fruits from Rs.150 to Rs.20 as per the reports.
The fruits have a vast market in the Southern part of India and other metro cities. The demand has also reached several other cities in the country. The dragon fruit market in India is flourishing due to its low investment and huge returns features. Major parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat have been cultivating this crop. Farmers have been successful in getting reasonable profits from growing these plants.
Although Indian farmers have just begun growing these crops, dragon fruits cultivated in India are available for five months in a year. Fruits that are available all year round are imported from other countries. Once grown, the plants can last up to 20 years. As dragon fruits have excellent antioxidants and other medicinal properties it an excellent option for people searching for healthy fruits. Presently the wholesale price for the fruits is in the range of Rs.125 to Rs.150 per kg. The fruits are sold in the market at the rate of Rs.200 to 250 per kg. Due to its quick return potentials, the dragon fruit market in India is beneficial to the people in agro-industries.