Black Plum(Jamun fruit/Blackberry) is fast becoming a rare fruit although it was a common phenomenon that the present-day middle-aged people would have climbed onto this tree quite often and plucked the fruits to taste. In roadsides, riversides, on the way to school and common highways this tree used to be in clusters fifty year ago. However, in the name of road-widening as well as sand-stealing, these plum trees seem to have almost come to extinct. Some villagers are not consciously growing this tree on account of their superstitious belief that it will invite demons and devils.
Nonetheless, there are a few farmers who still take interest in growing this tree and one such farmer is Chinnaraj belonging to Thadhankuttai village, near Thiruppathur in Vellore district.
Chinnaraj completed his M Sc and B.Ed and got married immediately. In the family settlement, he got an acre of land. However, he felt that it was insufficient and hence left for UP state to engage himself in setting up electric towers. He came back to village and started doing the same on contract basis in Tamil Nadu. Out of his earnings, he was able to buy 15 acres for cultivation of paddy and banana. Initially, water was not a problem and hence was able to manage. Later on, when water became inadequate, he put up 15 bore wells, out of which only one procured water. For storage, he built a tank (100 ft. x 40 x 10 ft.) and used the stored water for irrigation. He grew sapota and then mango on account of decreasing water supply.
Pasumai Vikatan leads the way:-
Ever since Chinnaraj started reading Pasumai Vikatan, he has been practising organic farming only. For the past six years, he has been continuously following the tips given in Pasumai Vikatan. Based on this only, he planted 600 papaya trees and earned Rs.8 L. In the next year he cultivated 4,000 trees but got only Rs.7 L due to drought.
Chinnaraj introduced country tuberose(sambangi) flower as an inter-crop in about 60 cents from which he got around Rs.1,62,000/- Another inter-crop in about 60 cents was hybrid tuberose which has just now come up for harvest. Besides these he has been manufacturing mango fruit juice with some of his friends under pure organic farming practice.
Rs.1,40,000/- from 20 trees:-
Out of his 15 acres of land, he has put coconut in one acre, mango in 12 acres and 150 black plum trees in the remaining 2 acres. Water is essential for black plum; else, the output will be less. Likewise, Chinnaraj got fruits from 20 trees only this year because of drought while it was 30 trees last year out of total 150 trees. Black plum fruits get him good revenue. He says he gets around 50 kg.fruits from each tree and per kilo, he is able to sell at Rs.140/-. Therefore, from 20 trees he has received Rs.1,40,000/- from black plum trees. He feels confident that if sufficient water were to be available, it would fetch him several lacs of rupees.
Jayakumar of Mettur, near Kodai road in Dingigul district has been a successful black plum farmer, yielding his returns in lakhs. He gives his views as under:-
Height is not a problem in black plum:-
Jayakumar says proper and timely pruning of branches should be done for black plum trees from time to time so that it will not grow so tall that it may be unmanageable. Instead, they will stop and turn out to be like umbrellas in which case harvesting will be comparatively easier.
Jayakumar had actually bought black plum plants from AP @ Rs.100/- and planted under dense cultivation method with a distance of 22 ft.between plants and 20 ft.between rows. He planted 82 such plants in his farm and pruned the branches like an umbrella in the 8th month. This variety will start giving fruits from the 4th year with just 5 kgs. only. Gradually, it will increase every year. Now these trees are 11 years old and the output will be more hereafter.
Sale is smooth:-
Jayakumar ‘s yield is 60 kg.from each tree and he does not find any difficulty in moving the fruits in the market. He directly sends them to the super markets in Nagarkoil, Coimbatore and Dindigul. People from Green shops approach him direct for procurement and hence selling is rather smooth for Jayakumar. In general, Jayakumar mentions that black plum yield would be more in one year and less in another year; as this trend is common, one should not get disheartened. Patience will pay in future.
Jayakumar has 82 trees in an acre out of which he gets fruits from 80 trees comfortably at the rate of 50 kg.from each, thereby getting a total quantity of 4,000 kg. He fixes the selling price @ Rs.140/- per kg thus getting Rs.5,60,000/- Deducting all incidental expenses, he gets a net profit of Rs.5,00,000/- in all. He is able to make this money within just 70 days for the whole year. In addition to selling them as fruits, he has further plans to add value to them and start selling in different forms also in order to increase the returns.
Jayakumar has further shared the following :-
Siddha medical practitioner Kirubakaran of Thiruvannamalai confirms that the black plum fruits contain proteins, minerals, sugar including other nutrients such as iron etc. We can eat them as raw fruits as well as in the form of juice. The fruit juice will cure purging and diarrhoea. It is capable of improving appetite and blood circulation. It will make our body healthy and fit.
In addition to the above, black plum fruits will quench the thirst. The fruit juice can be preserved for a month and used to prevent the craving for water by the diabetic patients. It will cure liver and intestinal pain and stimulate urination. It is a cooling agent. The powdered seeds will control sugar level in blood. Overdose of novel fruits will create acidity which can be offset by intake of amla fruit with water.
Black plum (novel) fruit is indeed a ‘novel’ fruit with its own medicinal benefits and lucrative returns for the investment that one makes in a farm.
(This article written R Kumaresan and Kasi Vembaiyan in Tamil for Pasumai Vikatan magazine in June 2014 has been reproduced in English by P.S.Ramamurthy)