Home Grown Nursery and Farms

Growers of high quality exotic fruits specializing in Rambutan. Located in Kanjirappally in Kottayam district, Kerala state

Jose Jacob

Home Grown Nursery and Farms is a partnership firm engaged in the production, propagation and marketing of exotic tropical fruits like Rambutan, Pulasan, Mangosteen, Durian etc. The firm was started by Mr. Renny Jacob and Mr. Jose Jacob, brothers along with their cousin Mr. Jojo Joseph as partner and Mr. Jose Jacob is the Director (managing partner) of the firm. The firm is housed in Kanjirappally in Kottayam district, Kerala state. The trio being traditional planters are also into agri related business and own the largest cocoa trading company in the country. They are the major suppliers for Cadbury India Ltd since 1992.

Initial Research
Home Grown Nursery and Farms started its research for hybrids of the above fruits in 1999 and comes out with hybrid varieties that suits the tropical belts of Kerala, Karnataka, Konkan – Goa and Maharashtra. Home Grown Nursery (HGN) also established its nursery production facility by cutting down 15 acres of rubber plantation situated on the banks of the river Manimala at Vizhickathodu, 10 kms from Kanjirappally. HGN’s main concern is on tropical fruits and also selected cultivars of jack and local varieties of mangoes etc., by rejuvenation of those varieties which are on the verge of extinction. HGN has also got a research farm of 5 acres.
Getting Started with Rambutan
The idea of growing Rambutan tree originated from a simple observation of one Rambutan tree grown in the courtyard of their grandfather’s house. A wild Rambutan tree consistently bearing 700 kg of fruits every year that was never nurtured or watered and believed to be 70 plus years old, that never showed old – age symptoms.

The tree grew more than 30 feet and big branches and sour fruits attracts all kinds of birds, bats and squirrels during the season, makes them difficult to harvest this fruit due to its height and birds’ prey. So, they decided to cultivate the Rambutan a hybrid variety and accordingly they took an experiment on a ten year old wild variety Rambutan tree that was grown in their property and surprisingly found the fruits bearing in the very next year. That was the predominant innovation of HGN, and a major milestone in the pursuit of Rambutan farming, opening up a very profitable, sustainable & 100 percent organic fruit of very premium quality that was well received across markets. They imported samples from Malaysia and Thailand and cultivated in their research farm and found the survival rate more than 90 percent. It took them 8 years from 1999 to 2007 to get an excellent hybrid cultivar which HGN had trade marked it as N-18.

This variety which satisfied almost all the parameters set forth by their in-house team. HGN has started selling budded plants of N-18 across Kerala through their franchisee and sold more than two lakh plants of N-18. This year HGN expects to sell around 1.2 lakh plants of Rambutan.

About Rambutan
N-18 Rambutan budded plants are 2 year old plants which start yielding in the third year of planting. All plants undergo a 10 month long Hardening process at the nursery to eliminate unhealthy plants, naturally exposing them to open light from the day of budding. Rambutan shall be planted in 3 X 3 ft pits at a spacing of 15 X 15 ft to 20 X 20 ft according to the land. High density planting is also done successfully in Mangalore.

Rambutan plants needs to undergo Plant Training in order to arrest the plant growing wild. This is done either by cutting down the height of the plant after 6 – 8 months of planting and after new shoots sprout and mature, at a height of less than 3 feet. While doing this, one must make sure that the plants have at least 10 leaves beneath the cutting portion to protect the plant from dying out. It is also important to apply some water proof compound on the cut surface of the plant.

Another option is to bend the top of the mature shoot so that while bending, height of the curve is maintained at less than 3 feet from the ground, and the plant is tied and pegged using a smooth jute rope and peg. In both cases branches will sprout towards sides to keep the tree taking a lateral growth rather than growing straight. This kind of training could be completed very easily in two or three stages between 6 to 24 months of planting.

Apply organic manure like cow dung twice a year 5kg a plant at a time and also neem cake, groundnut cake, bone meal mix, 3 times a year at 500 to 1kg a time per plant according to the age & growth of the plant. Rambutan needs irrigation at least twice a week but water-logged places are not good. Rambutan grows best in hilly terrains up to 2500 ft above MSL. Appropriate mulching shall be given during summer and may be removed at the beginning of monsoon. Scorching of leaves is very common but may be ignored since it will not damage the tree in any manner. Stem-borer is another possibility at young age till 2 years which needs to be monitored.

Rambutan being a hard wood tree needs very little maintenance and the life expectancy of this plant is considered to be more than 70 years. Post harvest pruning is the major critical job to keep the tree not growing wild and to maintain its lateral growth and shape. This will help to keep away bird’s prey. Moreover pruning helps sprouting of new branches upon which the next season flowers blossom.

Harvesting could be efficiently done with telescopic cut and hold tool stretchable upto 10 ft and harvest at a height of 15 ft without bunches falling down. With this tool, pruning also could be done simultaneously at the time of harvesting by cutting the bunch along with the branch which holds it.

Rambutan fruits takes 120-150 days to ripen after flowering and can remain on the tree upto 30 days after ripening without any damage leaving the farmer with no compulsion to sell out his produce but rather enable him to do it in a suitable manner so as to realize the best value for the fruit. HGN has designed International quality packages and take orders from farmers for their requirement. The impressive packing boxes for 1 kg pack, comes to the farmers with the name of the farm. This will help enhance the quality of the fruit as a branded farm and build up a more responsible farmer, with better pay backs. 1 kg pack of N-18 Rambutan fetches Rs. 200 at the farm gate on an average .

Climatic Conditions
Rambutan season varies according to different geographical areas. For instance, Karnataka season is in April-May, Kerala in June-July-August, Idukki district of Kerala in Sept-Oct-Nov. HGN plans to initiate promotional activities in these areas highlighting this seasonal perspective, which can go a long way in promoting this fruit as a very sought after in and outside the country.

Rambutan N-18 is a hermaphrodite plant and pollinate through ants, bees & butterflies. Crop starts in the third year of planting @ 3-8 kg a tree, 10-20 kg in 4th year, 25- 40 kg in 5th year, 50-80 kg in 6th year, and go up progressively upto its full age. With the present scale of growth HGN hopes to invest more than Rs. 1000 crore on this fruit by the year 2020. Overseas enquiries are many for this fruit and also in the recently held Emerging Kerala Meet, investors have shown keen interest in this fruit for buy back and value addition as well.

No exports was done this year due to the non availability of N-18. The company couldn’t meet not even 2% of Kerala’s demand this year. N-18 Rambutan is an exotic fruit loved by people of any age. Growing Rambutan when compared with other perennial crops is relatively troublesome in terms of maintenance, pests & diseases. The company’s advice for farmers is to come & see for themselves both in season & non-season. Get convinced of the facts & realities of the scope of this fruit as a sustainable agricultural option.

Other Exotic Fruits
Apart from Rambutan, HGN has brought out excellent cultivars of Mangosteen, pulasan – another exotic fruit from the same Sapindaceae family of Rambutan, Durian, jack, mangoes, nutmeg.

The company believes in specialization and hence restricts themselves to these limited items, in order to adhere to the quality standards the firm had set forth.

Mr. Jose Jacob says youngsters who venture into agriculture field must have passion for agriculture and must be ready to the nuances of agriculture. Today, modern agriculture needs passionate, dedicated and innovative minds to capitalize on it. It is heartening to see young brains coming into the agriculture field but they should keep it up what may be the situation arises. So wake up & we have miles to go!

Mr. Jose Jacob’s word of caution is that agriculture is not an easy meal. Farming is not a relaxing game even though it imparts quite a lot of satisfaction and peace of mind in the midst of toils & efforts you put in. Unfortunately, I see recently a lot of hype building up about farming among youngsters, who look upon farm & farm houses just as a mere freak joints or as a life style requirement.

Shun this thinking and take farming seriously, Mr. Jose Jacob advises.

Mr. Renny Jacob is a Chartered Accountant. Mr. Jojo Joseph & Mr. Jose Jacob, both are Masters degree in commerce.

Our Correspondent

For more information, contact : Mr.Jose Jacob, Director, Home Grown Nursery and Farms,
NH 220 (K.K. Road), Cheppumpara, Kanjirappally, 686507, Kerala, Mobile: 9746470301
E-mail: jose@homegrown.com Web: www.homegrown.in

Source : Agriculture & Industry Survey  [/hidepost]