02 March 2022, New Delhi: Hariman Sharma, a renowned progressive farmer from Paniala village of Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh district has developed an apple variety that can be grown in plain, tropical and subtropical areas. This apple variety does not require chilling hours for flowering and fruit setting. He has become a source of inspiration for thousands of farmers and agriculturists of Bilaspur and other lower hill districts of the state, the areas which earlier could never dream of growing the apple fruits.
During 1999, Hariman Sharma observed a fruit bearing apple seedling in his courtyard. The seeds in the courtyard were disposed by him in the year 1998 which was purchased from the village Gumarvi-Bilaspur district. Being an innovative farmer he thought that the apple tree bearing fruit at a warm place like Paniyala situated 1,800 feet above sea level was an extra ordinary sight. Apple plantation in India is usually done at an altitudes of 4800-9000 ft above sea level. The apple orchards requires 1,000-1,500 hours of chilling (when temperature remains at or below 7 degrees Celsius each season). The temperature during the plant growing stage should be around 21-24 degrees Celsius.
The farmer then preserved the plant for the coming season. Next year he took some branches and grafted them on a plum tree due to non-availability of apple tree. Grafting was successful and fruit quality was good. In 2004-05 he brought some crab apple seedlings from Shimla and grafted the same. He created a mini orchard of apple trees which then continued to bear fruits. The variety which he developed after repeated trials and experiment for low altitude is HRMN-99
Salient features of HRMN-99
- Grows in low altitude at 1800 feet above the sea level and does not require chilling hours.
- Average yield (1 quintal /plant from 7 year old plant)
- Ready to harvest in early June (after three years of transplanting)
- Tolerant to scab disease
In order to study the suitability and adaptability of the HRMN-99 in various agro-climatic conditions of the country, National Innovation Foundation – India (NIF) had transplanted around 10,000 saplings at 1190 farmers’ field in 29 states and 5 union territories during 2015-2017.
The variety HRMN-99 has been successful in Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar haveli, Karnataka, Haryana, Rajasthan Jammu, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Himachal and Delhi. This has led to increase in the demand of saplings on very large scale by the farmers through out the country.
Molecular study was also performed for the characterization of HRMN-99 apple variety in comparison with varieties by Gujarat State Biotechnology Mission, Gandhinagar. The study confirms its diversity and superiority over other low chilling varieties Anna and Dorsett golden.
Hariman Sharma is also referred as the ‘Apple man’ of Bilaspur district and has been conferred with various awards at national, state and district level.