While Madhya Pradesh’s Katthiwada is known for its scenic beauty, recently, it has gained popularity on social media for another unique attraction – Noorjahan mangoes.
Named after the Mughal queen, these rare mangoes are considered to be the biggest in the country – they weigh 3-3.5 kilos and can grow up to one foot long. The trees start flowering around some time around January and February, and bear fruits around June.
Growers of this variety believe it made its way from Afghanistan to Madhya Pradesh via Gujarat hundreds of years ago. And while there are multiple growers of the fruit, the most famous mangoes of this variety come from Noorjahan Mango Farms, owned and managed by Shivraj Singh Jadav.
From a far-flung village to the world
“My father started this farm by planting this variety from a graft, around 1965. Today, we have five Noorjahan trees and grow 33 different types of mangoes on our 16-acre orchard,” says Shivraj.
He adds that the tree grows to a height of about 50 feet and bears less than 100 mangoes each. “We receive around 350 mangoes in total from the five trees. But the fruits sell from Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 depending on their size, earning us lakhs,” he tells The Better India.
“I have compared our mangoes with other growers in different parts of the country and can say with confidence that the fruits from our farms are the biggest. It is mainly the soil, rainfall, weather and other geographic conditions that enable the trees to thrive,” he claims.
Speaking about the recent popularity of these mangoes, Shivraj says, “Noorjahan mangoes were always famous, especially those from our farm. My father was featured on Doordarshan and received publicity in other media between 1978 and 1981 as well. About 4,000 to 5,000 people visit our farm every year. It is only this year that the images and posts went viral on social media.”
S R Thakur, a Nagpur-based nursery grower of Noorjahan mangoes further explains that it is the characteristics of the mangoes that draws buyers in. “Buyers find the size of the mango impressive. The mangoes are juicy and look and taste like saffron. The fruit skin is thin, and the seed is small,” he says.
Take a glimpse of Noorjahan mango farms in the video below.
Thakur says that he has been cultivating saplings of Noorjahan in his nursery and that they sell very well. “I procured the graft from Shivraj’s farm a few years ago to prepare saplings. They are sold even before the season ends,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Shivraj says he is glad that his father planted the mango variety. “A plant that my father cultivated in our backyard, located in a far-flung area, has become known worldwide. We sold the fruit to London and the USA this year and I feel proud about that,” he adds.
He says that while mango varieties such as Alphonso, Badami, Dussehri, Kesari, Raspuri, Langra, Amrapali and others are well-known, he is glad that the rare Noorjahan has also gained much importance recently.
Shivraj says he is creating a nursery of Noorjahan mangoes for their propagation in other geographic areas. “We are also identifying more rare varieties which are on the verge of extinction. Four of them are already under the process of conservation,” he adds.
Shivraj appeals to farmers that they should grow mango varieties for commercial gains. “Each farmer should have mango trees on their farms. It does take five years to produce the fruit, but the returns are worth the wait and supports agricultural income,” he adds.
Edited by Divya Sethu