Also known as alligator pear, the avocado fruit is swiftly making inroads in urban Indian households. Whether it is making an avocado toast, adding the fruit flesh in your juice or even adding parts of the buttery and nutty fruit to your beauty regime, Avocados are here to stay.
Avocado has multiple health benefits. “It can keep your eyes, gums, liver and your heart healthy. It can also help ease osteoarthritis, combat metabolic syndrome and prevent food poisoning and live damage,” says Anamika Bist, founder of Village Story, Bengaluru. Read how Anamika quit her corporate career to help urban dwellers experience the village lifestyle here.
Full of vitamins and a rich source of antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, avocado is often touted as a rich man’s food because of the high price that the fruit is available at. The average market rate per kilo ranges between Rs 100 to 2000, depending on the variety.
But what if I told you that it is possible to grow the fruit at home with nothing but a small investment? It definitely might take some time before your plant starts fruiting, but once it does you can not only have it for free but also sell it commercially in various forms.
The best part?
The fruit contains Persin, a fungicidal toxin that is pest and bird repellent. So at no point will you have to use chemical fertilisers.
The Better India spoke to Harmanpreet Singh, an avocado farmer from Amritsar who has two types of avocado trees in his farm. After running a successful avocado venture in countries like Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Kenya for a decade, he is now growing the fruit in India.
Harmanrpeet gets a harvest of three quintal avocados per year, and he sells them at an average rate of Rs 400 per kilo. To encourage avocado plantations in India, he has grown his nursery as well.
“If you grow your plant, it will give two kilos of fruit in the first two years. This will increase to eight kilos in the third year. By the tenth year, your plant can give up to 1.5 quintals of avocado per year. The shelf life of an avocado tree is 50 years, and it requires very less maintenance. Moreover, avocados have market potential. Everything from the leaves to seeds can be used to make value-added products,” says Harmanpreet.
Things You Will Need:
- Avocado Seeds
- Cocopeat, sawdust or dry leaves
- Cowdung or vermicompost
- Add soil, cocopeat and compost in the polybag. If you don’t have a polybag, you can use a plastic bottle or container as well.
- Place the seed in a way that the upper half is peeping outside the soil. The seed could get spoiled if you cover it entirely with soil.
- The temperature of the area where you are placing the bag should not be lower than 25 degrees and should have good air circulation.
- Water the polybag twice a week in summers or once every 15 days in winters. The soil should not be too wet. 50 ml of water is enough each time.
- Keep adding a kilo of vermicompost over the next 20 days until the germination process is complete.
Transplanting the Seedling
- Transplant the seedling when the stem is about 15 cm. You can also cut it short to 10 cm to encourage faster growth.
- Again, place the cracked seed in a pot (3 ft height and 5 feet diameter). Ensure that the top of the seed is exposed above the soil
- Avocados love the sun so place the pot in your balcony or near the window.
- Do not over-water it. Just keep the soil moist. If leaves start turning yellow, then that is a sign of overwatering.
- Water and wait for the plant to give fruits. It can take up to two years.
- Grafting is a horticultural technique whereby tissues of plants are joined to continue their growth together.
- You can start grafting avocados 60- 90 days after you have transplanted the seed in the pot.
- Start the process when the stem grows to the size of a pencil.
- Tape the sprouting stem from the mother plant and a sapling together. Place this in a pot. Cut open the tape after a month when it starts sprouting or giving new leaves.
Do’s and Dont’s
- Figure out the top and bottom of the seed before putting it in a polybag. The pointier side will be the top.
- Prune the stems regularly to enhance growth
- If the colour of the fruit turns purple, it means it is ready to be harvested. Other ways to check are touch and smell.
- If there is excessive sunlight, provide shade to the pot with a green net.
- Extract oil from over-ripe seeds instead of throwing them out.
We hope the steps help you get started with owning your own organic avocado plant.
You can purchase saplings and seedlings from Harmanpreet’s nursery. Get in touch with him here.