In the last few years, farmer M Chenna Reddy has found the going to be a little tough at his farms. The cash crops that he had regularly planted at his farm at Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh had been faced with a shortage of water. There was nothing wrong in the drill he had followed while planting the sugarcane in his fields. But he did not realise the severity of the problem being caused due to the shortage of water.

Sugarcane has always been known to be a water intensive crop and, with every passing year, Chenna Reddy was finding it increasingly difficult to manage the water requirements for the plants. The only saving grace for him was that his crop of groundnuts was not facing as much of a problem.

As he scratched his head to find a solution to the vexing problem, help almost seemed to walk his way. A person from Jain Irrigation, a partner of Coca-Cola for the mango Unnati programme, was visiting the area. He was telling farmers about a new plantation technique that could have more trees and more fruit in the same land that they owned.

It sounded too good to be true. So, Chenna Reddy decided to attend a couple of ‘mobile classes’ on the Unnati bus that was also visiting the area. Inside the bus that had been converted into a classroom, farmers were told in great detail about the UHDP programme. What had their jaw drop was the results that had been achieved in the fields, not just in the labs.

“The classroom really helped to convince me to switch of planting Unnati mango trees,” Chenna Reddy said on the phone, speaking in his native language Telugu.

Soon, it was time for him to visit Udumalpet, the local fruit processing plant set up by Jain Irrigation. Having understood the kind of mangoes that were needed to feed the plant which produced mango pulp, Chenna Reddy was even more sure of what he wanted to do.

The first mango trees under the UHDP programme was planted on December 25, 2013. He had planted 1360 mango trees in the two acres but some of them could not survive due to the shortage of water. Despite that, Chenna Reddy has not looked back. His fields now grow both totapuri and alphonso mangoes, both which are used to make pulp that goes into the making of Maaza, the mango beverage that is loved by most of India.

The annual mango output from Chenna Reddy’s mango orchards is about 15 tonnes every year and that is very good income for the family. Two of his three children, both sons, work in Bengaluru and the income from the mango orchards takes good care of the family.

Chenna Reddy does not practice the flood irrigation for his mango orchards and invested in drip irrigation. It has helped him address the challenge faced by the shortage of water.

Last year, the prices of mangoes had fallen. But during the summer of 2019, the output has been good and the prices have been stable. “Our income has been better this year, compared to what we earned last year,” a contented Chenna Reddy said.

A healthy output of the king of fruits, as the Indian palate knows it, was never going to let him down!