Proposal comes days after Modi hails Kutch farmers for taking up its cultivation.

Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed farmers of Kutch for taking up the cultivation of dragon fruit in his Mann ki Baat programme on July 26, a senior officer of Gujarat forest department mooted a proposal to rename the fruit “Kamalam” , in order to “boost awareness and expansion”.

Kamalam, the Sanskrit for lotus, coincidentally, is also the name of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters in Gandhinagar.

In his monthly radio show broadcast, Modi had said farmers of Kutch were striving for self-sufficiency by increasing production of this fruit by adopting innovative practices.

“In Kutch, farmers are making laudable attempts to do farming of dragon fruit… a number of farmers are engaged in this activity today. They are doing lot of innovation to improve the quality of fruit and to improve productivity in smaller pieces of land. I am told that popularity of dragon fruit is growing, especially its use as a refreshment is increasing great deal. Kutch farmers have resolved that India should not import dragon fruits. This is the very spirit of self-reliance,” Modi had said.

Ten days later, Ram Kumar, additional principal chief conservator of forests (social forestry) in the forest department of Gujarat forwarded a proposal to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), proposing the renaming of dragon fruit as Kamalam.

“This fruit has a tremendous potential for cultivation in the country and is rich in vitamins and minerals… it would contribute to reducing our import dependence in line with ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. To boost awareness and expansion, dragon fruit should be renamed as Kamalam fruit…,” Kumar wrote in the proposal forwarded to the ICAR.

He reasoned that such a name was appropriate given the colour and features of the fruit, which is native to the Americas but was introduced to India in 1990s.

“The fruit comes in various colours but the most popularly cultivated variant is the one with pink skin and white flesh inside. The shape and external appearance of the fruit bears resemblance to the lotus… This name would have the advantage of instant connect with the common farmers and thus it is expected to gain wide acceptance pan-India,” said Kumar, adding some farmers in Kutch had already marketed the fruit as Kamalam fruit.

Talking to The Indian Express, Kumar said. “A few people in Kutch are selling it as Kamalam. But it is not a confirmed proposal as yet. The matter is under consideration of additional chief secretary (forest and environment).”

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