Kamalapur's famed red bananas

This is the red banana, grown in and around Kamalapur of Gulbarga district. Although a small town, Kamalapur has gained recognition thanks to this variety of banana. Red banana cultivation is entirely different from other varieties. Plantation starts in June to August and requires a large quantity of compost. The cost of farming is Rs 50,000 per acre. The income gained from banana cultivation is around Rs three lakh per acre.

The banana is being grown in this area from hundreds of years. “There is certainly a risk in red banana farming. But I am proud to say that I am conserving a traditional banana variety. Though its farming fetches thousands of rupees, my principal intention is conservation,” says Suraj Patil, farmer of Kamalapur town.

The red banana has medicinal properties and many nutrients. So farmers sell it for a high price. “We send these bananas to Bangalore and Mumbai. It costs Rs 100 per dozen. The business in local markets is low,” explains Suraj. Karnataka’s Department of Horticulture made efforts to protect the Kamalapur banana in the interest of the farming community.

Owing to its efforts, the red banana got registered under the ‘Geographical Indication (GI) registry’. After getting the GI tag, this banana can’t be used for genetic engineering trails. Moreover, this will remain the asset of Kamalapur farmers’ community. “Karnataka has got 27 GI tags for its horticultural crops. Pomegranates of Madhugiri, chakkota of Devanahalli, orange of Kodagu, betelnut leaf of Mysore and rasabaale of Nanjanagud are some of them. Farmers can sell these products by this brand name and thus they can get a high price in any market,” explains Additional Director of Horticulture K Ramakrishnappa.
Suraj Patil has been nominated for this year’s prestigious ‘Dr Marigowda Memorial Horticultural award’ for his commitment towards conserving Kamalapur red banana.

“Once I incurred a heavy loss due to rain. Because red banana plants grow too tall, there is a heavy loss if storms or heavy rain occurs. In spite of this situation, some of us farmers are growing the red banana because of its unique identity,” says Suraj.

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