Antral village in Maharashtra’s Jath taluka has become the center of attention as local farmer Kakasaheb Sawant successfully cultivates a unique all-terrain apple variety known as HRMN-99. Despite the adverse climate conditions and limited rainfall in the region, Sawant’s apple orchard has become a testament to his perseverance and innovation.
Challenging Conditions and a Remarkable Achievement
Jath taluka, situated near the border of Karnataka, experiences scorching summer temperatures of up to 43 degrees Celsius and a moderate winter with temperatures around 27 degrees Celsius. The region receives only 30 days of rainfall per year, averaging 560 mm. In such harsh conditions, the successful cultivation of apples is considered nothing short of a miracle.
Sawant, a former automobile mechanic, established a fruit and forest tree nursery in 2010. In early 2020, he purchased 150 saplings of the HRMN-99 apple variety developed by Hariman Sharma, a farmer from Himachal Pradesh. Sawant’s decision to grow apples in the Konkan region, known for its challenging agricultural conditions, was met with skepticism. However, his determination and expertise have proven the doubters wrong.
Hariman Sharma: The Innovative Farmer Behind HRMN-99
Hariman Sharma, the native of Himachal Pradesh, discovered an extraordinary apple seedling in his courtyard in 1999. Realizing the potential of this unique variety, he nurtured and grafted the tree with a plum tree, resulting in improved fruit quality. He went on to create a mini orchard with eight trees that continue to yield around one quintal of fruit each season. Sharma’s innovation was recognized, and his apple variety was named HRMN-99.
Resilience in the Face of Climate Crisis
The changing climate has posed significant challenges for apple growers in Himachal Pradesh, affecting regions such as Kullu, Shimla, and Mandi. Disturbed snow and rainfall patterns, as well as reduced chilling hours, have impacted traditional apple varieties. However, varieties like HRMN-99 offer a glimmer of hope. This variety, developed by Sharma, does not require chilling hours for flowering and fruit setting. It is also resistant to scab disease and can withstand adverse weather conditions.
National Innovation Foundation’s Initiative
To assess the adaptability of Sharma’s apple variety in different agro-climatic conditions across India, the National Innovation Foundation-India (NIF) transplanted approximately 10,000 saplings at 1,190 farmers’ fields between 2015 and 2017. The success of these transplants has further highlighted the potential of HRMN-99 apples in diverse regions.
Growing Popularity and Expansion
HRMN-99 apples have gained popularity among farmers and have been transplanted in 27 states across India. The apples have even found buyers in countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, South Africa, Zambia, and Germany. With over 9 lakh saplings sold to date, the demand for this all-terrain variety continues to grow.
Kakasaheb Sawant’s Remarkable Yield
Kakasaheb Sawant, recipient of the Udyan Pandit award from the Maharashtra Government, has managed to overcome the challenges of his region and achieve a successful apple harvest. Out of the 150 saplings he planted on his one-acre farm, 125 have thrived. Each tree bears an impressive yield of 30 to 40 apples weighing between 100 to 200 grams. Sawant’s efforts, supported by his two brothers, have transformed their 20-acre farm into a thriving orchard.
The Future of HRMN-99 Apples
Although some visitors have noted certain improvements needed in fruit-setting and palatability, experts believe that these issues will likely be resolved in the upcoming seasons. With a projected market price of Rs 200 per kilogram, Sawant anticipates a substantial income from his Sangli apple harvest.
Kakasaheb Sawant’s successful cultivation of HRMN-99 apples in Maharashtra’s Jath taluka demonstrates the resilience and innovative spirit of farmers in the face of challenging agricultural conditions. The all-terrain apple variety developed by Hariman Sharma holds promise not only for Maharashtra but also for apple growers across India. With its adaptability to diverse climates and resistance to common diseases, HRMN-99 apples have the potential to revolutionize apple farming in the country and beyond.