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Solapur Farmer Develops Elongated King Berry Grape That Sells for Rs 80 per Kg

Chintu Das
Chintu Das
Dattaraya N Kale

Farmer breeders have been drawn to Vitis Vinifera (Common Grape Vine) types throughout the years, and there are currently roughly a dozen new varieties created by farmers in Maharashtra's grape-growing zone.

Solapur's Dattaraya N Kale stands out for developing five new kinds throughout the years. The majority of them have won favour with growers not only in their own state, but also in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. 

Due to its size, the 56-year-latest old's variety, King Berry, which was released in February, has gotten a lot of attention. An elongated type with a black and purple colour with a berry length of 45-50mm and a width (berry diameter) of 24-25mm, it's ideal for manufacturing premium raisins. Its size is large when compared to the berry lengths produced in India, which range from 12mm to 20mm. Super Sonaka, a white-colored table grape with a 25mm length, is its closest competitor. 

Kale's Sonaka Farms in Nanaj, which spans 25 acres, has created six distinct grape varietals so far. 

Where It All Began 

Dattatraya's father, Nanasaheb, was a pioneer in grape production and created Sonaka Seedless, perhaps the country's first elongated green grape, in 1980. Ten years later, Dattaraya, then 31, introduced Sharad Seedless, a black type that is now one of India's most popular kinds, followed by Sarita Seedless, named after his mother, in 2004. 

Kale, a progressive grape farmer who dropped out after Class 12, has followed in his father's footsteps and now owns 25 acres of vineyards where he produces several types produced by his family. 

The Union Agriculture Minister presented Kale with the Plant Genome Saviour Farmer Award (2018-19), which includes a monetary prize of Rs 1.50 lakhs, for his remarkable contribution in producing superior grape varieties at a ceremony in New Delhi. 

With former Agriculture Minister Shard Pawar present on his vineyard in Nanaj, he presented the King Berry to grape producers in February, keeping social distance rules in place. 

About The Variety 

This cultivar contains at least two to three bunches on each branch. In the first year, he was able to produce 11 tonnes per acre, and in the second year, he was able to produce 14 tonnes. "King Berry is likely to target new export markets, such as China, Hong Kong, and Malaysia," Kale said. "It's high yielding, weather-resistant, and fetches better market pricing," adds Kale, who won the Grass Root Innovation Award at the Festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (FINE) 2019, the country's flagship effort for recognising and promoting ordinary man invention. 

While he earns between Rs 165 and Rs 170 per kg from export, he earns Rs 80 per kg from local sales, and the King Berry raisins fetch Rs 600 per kg. 

Other Accomplishments 

He's created five types of grapes, three of which are registered with the National Innovation Foundation and the other two, King Berry and Danaka Purple Seedless, are still in the works. 

Because of their good fruit length, flavour, and appealing purple coloured and litchi tasted huge sized berries, producers have extensively embraced his unique cultivars Sarita Seedless and Nanasaheb Purple Seedless for lucrative production. 

Future Plans 

Kale intends to switch to raisin production on a wide scale as a result of King Berry's success in the market as raisins. "Adding value to grapes is the future, and raisins have a lot of promise." "In case of market instabilities, processing grapes into raisins provides farmers a decent choice," adds Kale, who has already partnered with nearby farmers to trademark their product and sell it in Pune and Mumbai. 

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