Prominent fruit vendors in Betul can be seen selling huge quantities of a fruit that is a lookalike of green apple. When asked about it, the vendors told it is not apple but is known as ‘apple ber’.
There are about 6 to 7 thousand trees of Apple Ber in Betul and Ghoda Dongri block. This fruit is a hit not just in Betul market but also in nearby areas including Itarsi, Hoshangabad, Chhindwada, Nagpur, Amrawati etc. Navneet Verma, resident of Betul market is growing Apple Ber through the organic method.
Navneet is not an ordinary farmer but is technically an aware agriculture graduate farmer. Navneet had acquired a graduate degree in agriculture from Indira Gandhi University about ten years ago. Ever since, he has been making experiments to connect his traditional farming to new techniques.
Navneet’s family has 15 acres of land on which his father would earlier cultivate soyabean, sugarcane, wheat, some other crops and even vegetables through new techniques. His income would be quite nominal from this farming.Taking this into account, Navneet decided to cultivate horticulture crops. As his land was near the city, he was not able to get labourers for horticulture crops.
He purchased about 500 trees of Apple ber from Maharashtra and began cultivation on 1.5 acre land under the guidance of the Horticulture Department. He started using his own preparation of organic fertilizers and pesticides instead of chemical fertilizers which became a huge success.
An agriculture graduate Navneet grew cauliflower and peas on two strips of 1.5 ft each on both sides of the ber trees in the first two years. This fetched him an additional profit of Rs one lakh 20 thousand. Later he began commercial production from ber trees. The average weight of the organic apple ber tree grown by him is nearly 100 to 165 grams.
Currently, Navneet is getting about one quintal ber daily which he is able to sell at the rate of Rs 50-60 per kg in the retail market and at Rs 35 per kg in the wholesale market. So far he has got nearly 4 quintal organic apple ber from his crop.
Navneet believes that this year he will get a crop of about 80 to 100 quintal organic apple ber. Other farmers of Betul district are now inspired by Navneet’s success and have decided to follow suit.