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Mango Diplomacy

I had written about the Yerrangadu arboretum set up by philanthropist C Ramakrishna (IE December 2012 issue). I re-visited Yerrangadu recently and was happy to note several trees growing to a height of 30 ft and more.  

K P Geethakrishnan provided the plan and Lalitha and Vijayan of the Salim Ali Foundation had lent their expertise in setting up the arboretum. Over 400 trees have grown to different heights. It indeed was a sight to see the transformation of Yerrangadu in such a short time.

CR is a specialist grower of fruits, especially mangoes. On the other side of the arboretum he has planted a few thousand sapota and guava plants. At the nearby Prasad Gardens and Vennangupattu on ECR, he has planted thousands of mango trees.  With the help of an expert, Vinod from Maharashtra, he has cut several hundred trees and grafted these with new, high-yielding, exotic varieties. The trees are pruned to a height of 8-10 ft into beautiful canopies facilitating ease of maintenance, plucking and reduced wastage.

 

Exotic varieties...

CR raises around 26 different varieties of mangoes. These are apart from the traditional Banganapalli , Imam Pasant and Rumani. Jehangir, Jawahar, Kesar, Panchadharakalasam, Rasalu, Doodh Peda and Mallika, the Korean coloured mango are some of the exotic varieties. Several of these were absolutely delicious.

CR expressed happiness over the bounteous harvest of close to 300,000. Known for his mango diplomacy, CR is popular for his gifts of mangoes to the glitterati of Chennai. He donates a sixth of these to hospitals and orphanages.   I have requested CR to codify his experiences in perfecting mango cultivation over the last two decades. I also suggested his Illedu farms to access the resources available with Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology, Thanjavur to improve the shelf life of the products and also to process these into products that could be marketed round the year. It should be of great help to the hundreds of orchards that have been struggling to survive with antiquated cultural practices. 

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