‘Little Kashmir’ in Telangana: Tribal farmer harvests maiden apple crop
Hyderabad, May 27 (IANS) Four years of hard work of a young tribal farmer in Telangana have literally borne fruit.
Balaji Kendre has proved that with innovative thinking, determination and hard work any goal can be achieved.
Growing apples in the arid lands of Telangana is no mean achievement.
The 37-year-old knew that the hilly rugged terrain of Komaram Bheem Asifabad district is no Kashmir Valley but he was determined to prove that anything can be grown in the soil of Telangana.
After four years of untiring efforts, Balaji has succeeded in replicating famed apple orchards of Kashmir on a three acre field in the remote village of Dhanora in Kerameri area of K.M. Asifabad district, earlier a part of Adilabad district bordering Maharashtra.
Balaji, whose parents had migrated to Telangana from the neighbouring state, is not a traditional farmer. A Class 12 dropout, he always wants to try new things.
“Four years ago, a thought came to my mind. Why not grow apples here. People laughed at me but I started working on it and found that a variety of apples is grown in a region in Himachal Pradesh where the maximum temperature touches 40 degrees,” said Balaji, who also received the best farmer award from the Telangana government in 2017.
He started with few plants and encouraged by the results got in touch with farmers in Himachal Pradesh. He was convinced that he could grow apples in Keriameri, located at an altitude of 220 m above sea level. He found that with its hilly terrain, cooler climes and streams, the region is suitable to cultivate apples.
The farmer placed an order of 50 saplings and after transporting it to Dhanora, he began seriously pursuing his dreams with organic farming. As the saplings grew and bore the flowers and then fruits, he informed the officials in the Agriculture Department.
The experts told him to wait for a couple of years and advised him to grow some other trees in the vicinity for the right climate and protection of the apple crop.
He also received the help and guidance from agriculture scientists of Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular Molecular Biology (CCMB).
Meanwhile, the number of trees grew to 400 and this year he had his first crop of HR-99 variety apples.
He is keen to present fruits from the first crop to Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao who is impressed with his achievement and has invited him for a meeting.
Minister for Forests and Environment Indrakaran Reddy on Tuesday visited Balaji’s field and interacted with him about the crop. The minister praised the farmers for his innovative approach.
Balaji’s success has raised hopes among many farmers in Dhanora and surrounding villages. Some have even started cultivation and are taking the help from Balaji.