It was during a road trip to Gujarat that Punjab’s Amandeep Singh Sarao passed through a series of plantations that looked like cacti. Curious, he stepped out of the car and found a unique fruit hanging on them.

When he inquired about it with farmers, he was informed that these were all dragon fruit plants — an exotic fruit that helped them earn better profits.

Amandeep learned more about dragon fruit farming on social media and YouTube, and decided to experiment with the fruit variety back on his farm in Punjab.

“It is a lucrative proposition, as dragon fruit fetches a price of Rs 200-225 per kg. I visited some farmers across Maharashtra and Hyderabad who were growing it,” he adds.

He then sourced the plants from these states and carved out a two-acre land on his farm in Mansa village for cultivation. But he failed miserably.

“I failed to grow crops for four consecutive years. I learned that the soil on my farm was much more fertile and did not require the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. They also could not adapt to the extreme weather temperatures,” he says.

He then altered his approach and opted for an organic farming method. “I used jeevamrut to improve soil fertility, and used neem as well as other organic substances. Soon, the plants started bearing fruits,” he adds.

Today, his plantations include 20 varieties of dragon fruit, such as Valdivia Rosa, Asunta, American Beauty, and Purple Haze.

“I have started harvesting, and the plants are still in their growing stages. I expect an increase in fruit production in the coming seasons, which will increase the profits,” he adds.

Last season, Amandeep harvested seven tonnes of dragon fruits that earned him Rs 6 lakh per acre. So far, he has also trained 25,000 farmers in dragon fruit cultivation.

He says that his ‘never give up’ spirit helped him find success even after initial failure. “I want every farmer in Punjab to move out of conventional farming of wheat and rice, and opt for alternate fruits to multiply their income,” he remarks.