First woman farmer to cultivate dragon fruit in UP's Mirzapur ensures education to her kids, trains other women

Among Uttar Pradesh’s pioneering farmers who attempted to cultivate dragon fruit for better incomes is Vandana Singh from Mirzapur district. She has not only raised her standard of living but is also training other women in cultivating dragon fruit and earning profits. Details here.

Brijendra DubeyBrijendra Dubey   2 Feb 2023 12:42 PM GMT

First woman farmer to cultivate dragon fruit in UPs Mirzapur ensures education to her kids, trains other women

Vandana Singh’s success at cultivating dragon fruit has helped her gain popularity amongst the farmers in and around her village. Photos by Brijendra Dubey

Balua Bajahur (Mirzapur), Uttar Pradesh

In Mirzapur’s Rajgarh block, it is hard to ignore the concrete pillars which dot the shiny red soil on the foothills of the Vindhyas. These concrete pillars are the trellis which provide support to the dragon fruit plantations — a crop which has recently gained popularity amongst the progressive farmers in Uttar Pradesh.

One such farmer is 32-year-old Vandana Singh, who is the first woman farmer to cultivate dragon fruit in the district. She has not only earned unprecedented profits from cultivating dragon fruit but is also training other women farmers in the region to improve their livelihoods.

“I started cultivating dragon fruit after one of my relatives who lives in Arunachal Pradesh told me about it and advised me to get the plants from Vietnam. I got the plants in 2018 at a price of Rs 90 per sapling and it cost me around Rs 180,000 to get the plants to my village,” Singh told Gaon Connection.

The farmers further informed that the role of the local administration in supporting her was instrumental.

“The horticulture department provided Rs 30,000 to support me and also provided me with technical support to use the trellis technique. The first crop which I harvested in 2020 from my plantation spread on five acres of land [almost a hectare] and reaped profits worth Rs 500,000,” she said.

The profits helped Singh to be able to save her land which was on the verge of being mortgaged. With an increase in annual income, she is now able to regularly pay the increments on a loan which has helped her feel empowered about her role in the household.

“Not only that, I am now able to provide quality education to my kids. My elder son now studies in a convent school and I pay a monthly fee of Rs 4,000 for him to get quality education. All this would have been impossible without dragon fruit farming. The staple crops like wheat and paddy barely met our needs,” she said.

Vandana Singh at her nursery where she grows dragon fruits saplings for selling them to fellow farmers.

Mewa Ram, the district horticulture officer in Mirzapur informed Gaon Connection that a total of 185 farmers in the district are successfully cultivating dragon fruit on 100 acres of land.

“Out of these 180 farmers, 30 are women. The alleviation of Mirzapur which is around 80 metres from the sea level provides the optimum conditions for the dragon fruit to flourish. Despite the hot winds in the region which heat up the hills and send the mercury hovering to around 46 degrees celsius in summers, the production of dragon fruit has been impressive,” Ram told Gaon Connection.

Nursery provides dragon fruit saplings to interested farmers

Singh’s success at cultivating dragon fruit has helped her gain popularity amongst the farmers in and around her village.

“I have also maintained a nursery where dragon fruits’s saplings are cultivated to be sold to other farmers. Today, there are 21,700 plants in my nursery and I sell them at a price of Rs 50 per plant. Farmers from states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and also from western Uttar Pradesh visit my nursery to buy plants,” Singh told Gaon Connection.

Singh said that women can easily cultivate their own fields as dragon fruit cultivation does not require intense labour which is needed in crops like wheat and paddy.

A plate of cut dragon fruit from Vandana Singh's farm.

“I train them free of cost. I want more women to take the leading roles in providing a better livelihood for their families. This crop needs technical insight on irrigation, pest management, and fertilisers. I am there to support the women farmers who are cultivating dragon fruits in Mirzapur,” she said.

Mewa Ram, the head of the Department of Horticulture and Food Processing in Mirzapur, informed that the dragon fruit cultivation has gained immense popularity amongst the women in the district.

“This year, the production of dragon fruits was 80 quintals [800 kilogrammes]. Next year, we are expecting it to top 500 quintals, Ram said.

#dragon fruit dragon Mirzapur Uttar Pradesh 

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