The demand for avocado fruit, commonly called butter fruit, has risen considerably and its cultivation has spread to many parts of the district.
A matured avocado plant yields nearly 500 to 1,000 fruits a year, each fruit weighing 300 gm to 1,000 gm. C.B. Vinayak, a small-scale farmer at Ambalavayal, says he got 75 kg of avocado fruit from a six-year-old plant in the first harvest. “I sold it at Rs.20 a kg to a fruits trader.”
Mr. Vinayak said he expects to harvest the same quantity of fruits in the second round to be taken up within a few weeks.
The avocado is a climactric fruit, which means it matures on the tree but ripens off the tree; so it is highly perishable, V.S. Devadas, Associate Director, Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS) of Kerala Agricultural University, said.
The fruit contains 30 to 40 per cent of fat and it is mainly used in preparing dessert, he said. Now it has high demand in supermarkets in metropolitan cities and the Gulf markets, he added.
While dozens of cultivars are grown in American countries, here we have been cultivating four varieties of the fruit, mainly for propagation, including Pullock, Fuerte, Kallar round and purple hybrid since the Sixties, Mr. Devadas said. The Kallar round variety has high demand in the market owing to its rounded shape, he added.
Every year, we supply 3,000 to 5,000 grafted saplings of the plant at Rs.20 to farmers, he added. Last year, we sold as many as 10,000 of the grafted avacado saplings, A. Radhakrishnan of Kulampully Nursery said.
The discolouration of the fruit owing to the pest attack is the main threat of the crop, said Majeed, an Avocado fruit merchant hailing from Kodaikanal.
The discolouration of the fruit may adversely affect the price too, he added. After collecting the fruit from different parts of the district, he exports it to Bangalore, the main market for the fruit, he added.