By Deepa H. Ramakrishnan
The guava named after the President, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, by a farmer of Koodapakkam near Pondicherry. — Photo : T. Singaravelou
PONDICHERRY DEC. 15. A guava variety, weighing nearly one kg, has been named after the President and architect of India's space programme, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Developed by T. Venkatapathi Reddiar, a farmer of Koodapakkam near here, the `Kalam' fruit weighs about 950 gm and grows 17 cm high when mature.
The farmer, who is known for his innovative crossandra (Kanakambaram flower) farming, obtained this pear shaped fruit through gama radiation at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research at Kalpakkam. ``The guava seedlings got mixed up with the crossandra plants by accident and only when the batch came back did I notice that I had some guava seedlings that had undergone radiation. I had them planted too and now I have this huge fruit, which looks and tastes different'', says Mr. Venkatapathi.
The seed pattern too is different from regular guavas. As the fruit is smoother than other varieties and the seeds are not very hard, the pulp content can be used to make jam'', he says.
He now has five such plants that yield the `Kalam' variety. The plants grow up to a height of eight feet and the only drawback with these fruits is that the branches bend because of the weight.
He is at present comparing the `Kalam' guava with other common varieties and testing it for its weight, taste and yield.
Even as his testing is in progress, people have already placed orders for the plants that can be propagated through layering. He now proposes to develop pink coloured flesh in the guava.
Asked why the fruit has been named so, the farmer says: ``I like him. He has risen to extraordinary heights and become the President. He also encouraged me to work more in the field of agricultural research.''