"Organic methods reap a house full of mangoes
from a single tree
May 12: Having nurtured the Mysore Badami mango tree for as long
as 14 years, the family was disappointed with a meagre yield of
about 100 mangoes and wanted to chop it down.
the head of the family, Dr H K Lakshman Rao, who had developed
an emotional attachment to the tree, refused the suggestion and
decided, as a last ditch effort, to use natural organic manure
instead of chemical fertilisers.
result was nothing less than spectacular.
we harvested the mangoes last week, we thought it would be a routine
affair and would be over in about half-an-hour’s time. But
that was not to be. We are amazed by the yield as it took nearly
ten hours to finish the job...And the house was full of mangoes,"
Dr Rao told UNI, proudly pointing to the mango tree in the compound
of his house in a south Chennai locality.
our own consumption and gifting to relatives and friends, there
were lot of mangoes left. We sold it at a very nominal rate that
yielded Rs 4,000. There was mad rush for the mangoes and many
of them had to go home empty handed...," he added.
the 63-year-old Dr Rao, a management consultant associated with
BITS, Pilani, IGNOU and AIMA, had been in the marketing division
of Madras Fertilisers Ltd. for 23 years.
told UNI that all these years, no expense was spared in looking
after tree. Timely application of fertilisers, chemical pesticides
and regular watering was carried out. The tree started yielding
crop from the seventh year, but it was too meagre, mostly infected
with pests and unfit for consumption.
changeover to organic cultivation methods have paid rich dividends
as the tree has started yielding more than 2000 mangoes much to
the amazement of the residents of the South Chennai locality.
Dr Rao said he was also getting queries from various quarters,
including from outside the state, about his cultivation methods.
said as a first step, he had trimmed the tree immediately after
harvest in June last year. The lopped off leaves, both green and
dry and the tender stems were raked into a 1.5 feet deep pit dug
near the tree. Subsequently, the ditch was topped with mud.
large quantity of neem leaves, procured from the trees lining
some streets in the neighbourhood, were put into another pit near
the root system of the mango tree along with neem cake and sand
as a substitute for chemical fertilisers.
moisture content was maintained with a little bit of watering.
Dumping of coconut husk in and around the tree also helped in
retaining moisture, reducing the need for frequent watering.
oil, instead of chemical pesticides, was sprayed once in three
months in July, October and January. The result was that the tree
"vermipit" was set up on one side of the house in which
earth worms, vegetable wastes and kitchen wastes were put and
covered with mud. After two months, it became good organic manure
for the tree.
Rao claimed that the neem leaves, coconut husk and the neem oil
provided some sort of nutrition to the tree as it not only increased
the yield manifold, but the size and the taste of the mangoes
also improved. Hardly any fruit suffered pest infestation, he
said he found that with this treatment, the tree became much healthier.
Dropping of flowers and withering of the mangoes were also significantly
reduced. "When we were spending about Rs 1,500 to Rs 2000
for chemical fertilisers, the yield was very low and the return
was only pests," Dr Rao said.
Rs 300 spent on organic manure by way of collecting falling neem
leaves from other parts of the locality, we got a return of more
than 2000 mangoes," he said.
mantra for Dr Rao is simple. "The focus of the management
is on adopting the available resources to the best of one’s
advantage...Whether in an industrial plant or on a mango plant.
I did that exactly," he said with a smile.
everyone adopt this same system, self-sufficiency could be achieved,
leading to bumper crops everywhere and bring down the market price
of mangoes to affordable levels for common man," he added.
Rao’s other interests include rain water harvesting and
solar energy. At his residence, he had set up a rain water harvesting
facility which he claimed improved ground water quality and quantity.
He had also installed solar heater at the terrace of his residence
and a solar lamp is the latest addition. (UNI)"