Grown in forests Chhotaudepur’s custard apple is in demand all over Gujarat including Ahmedabad
Custard Apple (Sitaphal) trees, which grow naturally in the forests of Chhotaudepur district are providing supplementary employment to the tribal community of the district. A large number of custard apple trees including many timber trees, medicinal plants, charoli are found in the district which is rich in forest resources.
In the hilly areas of Chhotaudepur, Kawant and Naswadi talukas of Chhotaudepur district, Custard apple trees grow naturally. The owner himself sells fruits from the trees growing in his own land while the trees in the forest or in the panchayat land are considered as the common property of the village.
The people of the tribal community go to the forest in the morning and harvest the Custard apple and collect it at one place. Then it is sorted and packed in crates as well as boxes and loaded in vehicles. Custard apples from here are sent all over Gujarat including Ahmedabad, Baroda, Bharuch, Surat.
No chemical fertilizers or pesticides are used to grow these shrubs. Experts say that the fruits of this naturally growing tree are in great demand as they are completely organic. Being organic, these fruits are very sweet to eat.
Due to the medicinal properties of the custard apple tree, it is also of great importance to the people here. People here apply a paste of custard apple leaves and beans to their animals if they get a wound or a lump. If a person gets a wound or a round boil, he rubs the raw fruit of custard apple and applies it.
Parashubhai Rathwa of Motarampura village said, “Since we were young, we see that our elders used to earn income by selling custard apple. We also pick plums from the forest in the morning. From here the fruits are sent to markets in Bharuch, Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat.
Social leader Rajubhai Rathwa says that custard apple trees are a blessing for their tribal society. They make a living by selling custard apple.Twenty kg box of Custard apples are sold at 150 to 250 rupees. A family earn around 500 rupees per day by selling Custard Apples.
Thus, during the season of custard apple harvesting which lasts from fifteen days to twenty days, a family earns an income of twenty to thirty thousand rupees. Thus, the people of the tribal districts in the interior like Chhotaudepur live in the midst of scarcity of livelihoods. In such time the naturally grown Custard Apple gives them a new source of income.