In a bid to revive and conserve ‘Devanahalli Pomelo’, an endangered citrus fruit, the operators of Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru have started a plantation drive in the region as part of their flagship CSR Programme ‘Namma Ooru’.
Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) officials claimed that the airport premises will soon house the largest pomelo orchard in the area.
“In our attempt to be a role model for sustainable progress, we have made a long-term commitment to sustainability and community engagement that will effect a change in culture. With this initiative we aim to revive, conserve and restore the past glory of Devenahalli pomelo, a fruit that is associated with the region in which BLR Airport is located,” said BIAL MD&CEO Hari Marar.
Unlike other varieties, the Devanahalli Pomelo has a Geographical Indication (GI) tag as it is known for its sweet taste. However, hectares of pomelo plantation that once dotted the Devanahalli region have now all but vanished. Currently, there are less than 100 cultivators in the area.
While 50 saplings procured from the Department of Horticulture have been planted so far, the BIAL wants to plant 450 more. Officials said they plan to develop the area as an organic pomelo cultivation demonstration site. “This will be complete with signboards and literature for any member of the public interested in learning about the process,” officials added.
BIAL is also planning to work with farmers in and around Devanahalli to preserve the fruit and promote cultivation by empowering self-help groups and undertaking tree grafting.
Also known by its scientific name Citrus Maxima, the tree’s fruit is rich in Vitamin C. While each pomelo tree grows 24 inches per season, it can live from 50-150 years and reach a height of 25 feet.
According to officials involved in the initiative, each tree annually yields an average of 300 to 400 fruit. “Each fruit, typically, weighs 2 to 2.5 kg and is identified by distinctive pink or red juicy carpels. The Devanahalli pomelo has a unique, sweet taste, unlike other local varieties which have a bitter taste,” a BIAL spokesperson added.
Once a common sight in the Devanahalli region, the variety became endangered gradually due to a couple of reasons. “The establishment of the Airport brought in different livelihood opportunities for people to change their practices and focus shifted away from its cultivation. The absence of an organised market for the fruit was another factor,” a native environmentalist from the area said.
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