All her life, Padma Pratyusha had been a teacher. Her husband, K Prasanna Reddy, had been a software professional and the two had every reason to be happy with their life. Till, one day, they decided to quit their jobs.

They had already been reading and learning about mango farming and the teacher and software professional decided to try their hand at it.

It was the beginning of a new life for the couple as they decided to devote time to work for their mango orchards. The land had been theirs for nearly 15–20 years and bore some traditional mango trees. The trees on their 10-acre land had been producing the totapuri variety of the fruit that gave mediocre earning to the couple.

As they had been planning to leave their jobs, they were reading about new methods of farming. Sometime in 2015, Pratyusha met a research scientist from Indian Institute of Horticulture Research who suggested that they could consider the ultra-high-density plantation (UHDP) technique for their land and plant what are popularly called Unnati Mango trees.

The couple decided to try out something that not many farmers may have attempted. The two parcels of land, about five acres each are a bit apart. So, they decided that one parcel of land will have the traditional mango trees. For the other parcel, they decided to experiment with the UHDP method of plantation. Before planting trees, soil tests and other necessary research was carried out on their land.

“We had started in 2015 and the soil had to be prepared for the new plants,” Pratyusha mentioned, on phone, about the preparation that was done on their land. The difference in the two chunks of land was stark at it showed just as the new set of trees were being planted.

The couple hired farm workers for spraying of pesticides, which were carefully supervised and administered as per good agricultural practices (GAP) . Similarly, it was ensured that weed control was carried out before the plantation which would help in healthier output as weeds would not compete for light, water and nutrients.

“We had planted 575 Unnati mango trees per acre while the number of trees under the traditional farming method was just 75 per acre,” Pratyusha recalled the early days.

It was about an eager wait and patient watch after that. Thankfully, it wasn’t that long. Now into the fourth year, the Unnati mango trees are showing results. This year has been a bumper one for the couple. For the five-acre land where they have planted Unnati mangoes, the harvest has been nearly 25 tons. The  low-hanging fruits (quite literally) were a delight to harvest during the season. In comparison, the trees planted by the traditional method, before the Unnati mango trees came up, have given about five tons.

This is the maiden year for the Unnati mangoes and there are many more such fruit-laden seasons to go. With mango output nearly five times as much for the newly planted trees, it has been easy to decide on what their farming method will be.

“I want to convert the rest of the farm to Unnati someday. The input cost is more under Unnati mango trees but the output far exceeds the input,” a beaming Pratyusha said.

“We want more and more farmers to adopt the modern UHDP method for fruit farming since it helps them improve output from the fields. They can also learn from and join the ranks of other progressive farmers,” Aditya Panda, Senior Manager, Fruit Circular Economy, Coca-Cola India & South West Asia said.

Under the Unnati Mango programme, Coca-Cola in India has joined hands with Jain Irrigation and is trying to help farmers boost the output from their fields. With a large-scale adoption of UHDP farming practices, the project seeks to create an ecosystem that helps farmers improve their income. It also is in line with the national agenda of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.