Forget apples from Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, soon apples from Visakhapatnam district could give them a run for their money. Experiments in the Agency areas of Visakhapatnam for the past three years has proved that the hilly areas of the district are a fertile ground for cultivation of apples, which have hitherto been restricted to orchards in the chilly climes of J&K, Uttarakhand, HP and Arunachal Pradesh. If all goes well, commercial production of apples could begin in four to five years.
The first seeds of apple cultivation were sown by chance by Bobbili Rambabu, a tribal from the Visakhapatnam Agency area, seven years ago when he tossed a few apple seeds in the backyard of his house at Lambasingi, where temperatures are known to dip below 0 degree Celsius during winter. The incident alerted researchers to the possibility of growing this delicious fruit in Visakha Agency
Mr. Ramesh Aggarwal, chief scientist of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, on a visit to the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS) at Chintapalli in the Agency, said, “We are undertaking further study on the varieties that are suitable for the region. The outcome of these studies is expected in a couple of years.”
Mr. G. Jogi Naidu, Associate Director of Research, RARS, said, “Low chilling varieties of apple saplings — Anna, Michael and Selection — were planted at RARS, in 2014. The results — the average number of fruits per tree was 35 and average weight of each fruit was 53 gm.”
The results have shown that the fruit has a sweet/sour taste. It is small in size. It is expected that the fruits will become sweeter as the harvesting season is in August. Cultivation of apples will help the locals get extra income and help in improvement of living standards. The government has plans to grow apple orchards and make money out of it.