During his childhood, Haji Kalimullah Khan used to play hide and seek around mango trees grown by his ancestors while relishing sweet mangoes. This Lucknow-native’s love for mangoes is what makes him grow over 1,600 varieties on his eight-acre land.
The 82-year-old horticulturist recalls planting his first mango tree when he was in class 7. He then used the grafting method to create seven varieties of fruit from a single tree.
Today, there is a 120-year-old mango tree on his farm which has 30 varieties of mangoes with different taste, colour, texture and smell.
Interestingly, this octogenarian has named some of the varieties after eminent personalities, including cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Khan was awarded Padma Shri in 2008 because of his contributions to the field of horticulture as well as his contribution to preserving and expanding the varieties of mangoes.
“For me, the act of growing fruit as beloved as mango is very sacred. The sheer joy I see every time a person eats a ripe and sweet mango is unparalleled. My goal is to spread a bit of happiness and sweetness in the world and what better way to do so than with mangoes,” he said.
Watch the gritty story of the mango man of India:
Edited by Yoshita Rao