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15 Dec 2017

Avocado fast becoming a source of small scale earning for farmers in hills

Prashant Acharya, EOI, SILIGURI: After Darjeeling tea, the second item that is fast growing in popularity and has started dominating garden and kitchen of farmers in the hills, is avocado (alligator pear).
Having more nutrition than many other fruits in the world, it is now being considered as an important contributor to human diet and this has encouraged many farmers in the hills to start production of avocado. In the last couple of years, people of hills especially from the Mirik region have shown interest in growing avocado around their residences for business purpose as well as for making general people aware about its nutrition values. For most of the farmers in Mirik Busty, avocado production has become a source of small scale earning and many are gradually crawling large scale production of the fruit.
An avocado orchard was first made commercially by R B Zimba in and around 2004 at his place, situated six to seven Kilometers downhill from Mirik Bazar, in Mirik Busty and Duptin Taar. Today the market value for this fruit is around Rs 130 per kilo. They even sale it at a price of Rs 30 to Rs 40 per piece. 
Zimba foresees that the avocado production can reduce the unemployment burden if done and supported by the concerned departments, in a very large scale. The effort required for avocado orchard is minimum, says he. 
Furthermore, he advises that the seedling planting has to be done in between the months of June to September. This is because within these months the seedling reaches the height of two to four feet and it is the best months for the plant sap to be shifted from the pot to the earth. The distance to be kept between the saplings is around eight to 10 feet. He has been with avocado production for almost 12 years. He further informs that if any interested individual wants the plant saplings then the individual must do it as an advance order.
According to Zimba the health benefits of avocado include weight management, protection from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, treating osteoarthritis and enhancing the absorption of nutrients from the body. It also reduces the risk of cancer, liver damage and vitamin K deficiency – related bleeding. 
Avocado helps keeping eyes healthy and protecting the skin from signs of aging and the harmful effects of UV rays. It also helps in maintaining blood sugar levels and has antioxidant properties. It even helps to increase circulation, boost cognitive abilities and build stronger bones. He said as per the recent research study, avocado seeds are used for the treatment, inflammatory conditions and hypertension as well as for improving hypercholesterolemia. 
Another research study shows that consumption of avocado leads to improved diet quality and nutrient intake, including a lowered risk of metabolic syndrome.
“Avocado is rich in more nutritional benefits that will be explored in the years to come. The avocado orchard further awaits the government blessings for which the employment opportunities can be created in this field too. The people involved on this field can play a healthy contributing role to the benefits of the society and health factor of different individuals with varied ailments”, said Zimba.

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