Revives 50 years old mango tree with 1350 grafts of 51 different mango varieties
“One mango tree in my farm used to yield sour mangoes and I was not able to earn even Rs. 1000 annually! As the tree was more than 50 years old I decided to give a new lease of life to it with grafting. Secondly I am passionate about safeguarding our national treasure of crops therefore I decided to graft native Indian varieties of mango on my mango tree. It was only an experiment done with intent to protect the rare Indian mango varieties and revitalize my tree,” says Mr. Ravi Madhavrao Marshetwar, social worker and farmer. His ultimate aim is to protect indigenous weeds, indigenous seeds and indigenous breeds of India. He is based at Washim, Maharashtra. The tree has been successfully restored with 1350 grafts of 51 different mango varieties. “Now one single tree yields diverse mango varieties and each mango is extremely sweet and tasty. The tree has turned into a ‘Mango Bank’ as it has a unique collection of various plant germplasms. I share the grafts with other farmers who are genuinely interested in mango cultivation.” The tree has become center of attraction of the region.
Mr. Marshetwar owns and manages mango orchard having multiple varieties of mangoes grown through ultra high density farming. He has planted 1000 saplings in 2.5 acre farm. He practices cow based farming exclusively. “I have pure gir breed cows on my farm. I make all farming inputs from its dung and urine,” he adds. In order to encourage farmers learn new farming techniques he also organizes free agri tours.
Grafting experiment on the mango tree was started in the year 2008. “In the beginning, after couple of rains in June, I cut down all the worn out branches and stems of the tree. There was not a single leaf on the tree! A month later, after new branches sprouted I started planting the grafts till September end. Approximately 700-800 grafts were planted on the tree. Handful number of grafts didn’t survive but rest grew well. I took very good care of the tree and fed it with gir cow based manure and bio-solutions. Next year in 2009, during monsoon once again I grafted another 600-700 grafts,” he elaborates. In two years the old tree was re-energized with 51 new mango varieties.
To augment the growth of the new sprouts and protect the tree from pest/disease attack Mr. Marshetwar sprayed a bio-solution prepared in-house with gir breed cow urine and jaggery along with neem leaves. Speaking about flowering and fruiting he says, “Mango trees flowers mostly from November end. More the temperature drops more is the flowering. It happens simultaneously in all varieties however it does varies on my tree as 51 varieties are grown together. Few varieties yield every year while rest alternate years.”
Mango grafts grown on the tree are mostly the local indigenous varieties along with commercially popular variants such as Amrapali, Dasheri, Langra, Kesar, Alphonso, Baganapalli, Totapuri and Chaunsa etc. The tree is nurtured with utmost care and precautions. “I travelled far distance across different Indian states to collect these grafts. Majority of the varieties are rare and endangered!. The grafts were planted as collected and also shared with other farmers because my goal is to protect these varieties from getting extinct and have bio-diversity in my farm,” he highlights. In 2017 mango season Mr. Marshetwar sold mangoes of this tree and earned Rs. 30 thousand.
When asked about distinctive mango variety amongst all 51 varieties produced on the tree he responds, “All the varieties are unique yet there is one local variety sourced from Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh state border that yields biggest size mango fruit in the country. I have named it as ‘Maharaja’. Each fruit of this variety is approximately 2.5-3kg in weight and 1.5 feet long. It is an exceptional variety for the pulp processing. I have three grafts of Maharaja mango. I am paying special attention on these grafts so as to have a fruit weighing 4.5-5kg. Even if one fruit can be obtained of 4.5kg plus weight then it could be listed in Guinness book of world records. I am optimistic that it is achievable.” Maharaja mango variety was almost extinct as there was only one tree left when Mr. Marshetwar sourced it from its’ village. Now he has multiplied its’ clone and distributed to other farmers as well. “It is the treasure of our country. I am glad it has been protected now.”
In time to come Mr. Marshetwar shall be continuing his present operations and is developing one tree that can yield 11 different fruits. “One tree will produce 11 fruits such as orange, sapota, sweet lime, mango, grapes and apple etc. The foundation of the tree will be ‘Aegle Marmelos’. It is commonly known as Bael in Hindi, golden apple, wood apple or stone apple. The tree requires very less water for its growth and is a sturdy fruit variant. It is already planted. After one year I shall add other fruits’ grafts on it.”
He concludes making appeal to all farmers, “Mango is king of fruit not only because it tastes good but it is also rich in various medicinal properties such as some variety boosts hemoglobin or other can be good appetizer. We farmers have a duty as Indians to protect these varieties and multiply before it gets extinct. Grafting is the best way to preserve the national crop wealth, let us do it mutually and sincerely!”
Mr. Ravi Madhavrao Marshetwar
Shukrawar Peth, Indira Chouk, At Washim, District Washim – 444505, Vidarbha, Maharashtra
Mobile: +91 9823748863