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Retired Banker Turns Farmer; Earn 10 Lakh per Season from Dragon Fruits

K S Joseph, a retired banker from Kerala, has revived a barren 4-acre land with dragon fruit cultivation. Today, he’s earning Rs 10 lakh in one season with this exotic fruit.

Ayushi Raina
KS Joseph
KS Joseph

In 2017, K S Joseph of Kerala resigned from his post as a banker. This could have been the end of an era, or say the beginning of a new one.

Joseph, who was not used to sitting idle, felt that something had to be done to fill the vacant hours of his late life so he purchased four acres of property on the picturesque hills of Athikkayam village in Kerala, inspired to be surrounded by nature in a profitable setup.

“However, the area had become degraded due to result of years of continuous rubber cultivation. So I had to revive it using a low-maintenance plant that could withstand severe conditions,” he shared.

Initially, Joseph experimented with producing common fruits local to the state. However, none of them survived due to a lack of suitable soil conditions. When he realised he needed to change, he sought around for recommendations and was introduced to the delights of dragon fruit.

What began as measured planning has subsequently been greeted with simplified attempts to yield plentiful fruit, that too an exotic one. Through farming, he earns a seasonal income of Rs.10 lakh from as many as 3,000 pitaya or dragon fruit trees.

A prudent fruit investment

Pitaya has gained popularity among consumers and farmers alike because to its numerous advantages and very profitable production. It has a lot of fiber and water, and its intake has been associated to a lower risk of coronary disease and better digestion. 

The presence of vital vitamins and minerals makes this fruit an excellent immunity booster.

Aakash Chadha, Chef de Partie at Lemon Tree Hotels, comments on the fruit's popularity, saying, "In the early 2000s, the fruit was new in the Indian market, and hence had a strong social appeal to it." Customers, in our experience, continue to demand it, owing to its appealing look and nutritious value. The fruit is no longer a outlandish experience, but it is still a well acclaimed one.”

When the mushy white pulp is scooped off the pink-colored scaly dragon-like skin, the fruit's allure is instantly apparent. When ripe, it feels somewhat soft to touch and is used as a garnish on savoury salads as well as a standalone fruit.

He adds that while the sweet taste delicacy has always been in great demand, it is now gradually being fulfilled by Indian production rather than imports from its western native countries.

Joseph, a recent addition to this roster of cultivators, describes why dragon fruit is an excellent investment for farmers. Since they are drought tolerant, these plants require minimum irrigation and save him money on water usage. According to his experience, this makes the initial physical and monetary investment worthwhile in the long run.

He had planted 200 saplings on the property at the start of the project. He built an open framework of trellises stuck into the ground for them. The structures were made of cement for its strength and would hold vines of up to four plants each. “A total fixed capital of Rs 2 lakh was invested in the first year, including the investment on set up and plants,” he affirms.

All of this work was done alone by the industrious man. Today, the 65-year-old now manages an output of 300 to 500 kg with a team of up to four people.

Jitu, a labourer who obtained permanent employment under Joseph, says that the team prepares chicken dung fertiliser every six months and sprinkles the field with cow dung manure quarterly to fulfil the nutritional needs of the plants.

“The fruiting season lasts six months, from April to October. During this period, I sell the fruit in kilos for Rs.200,” Joseph explains.

While he is content with the way things are going, his team eagerly urges him to continue expanding because of the excellent use of land and profitability this venture is delivering.

You may reach KS Joseph at +91 9446818547 if you have any questions about the fruit.

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