The visually appealing Thrissur special Changalikodan variety of bananas are slated to hit the Onam markets in the state. The banana variety, as the name suggests, originates from Chengazhikodu village here.
Changalikodan differs from other varieties of Nendran as the hands of the bunch bear 20 to 25 golden-yellow-coloured fruits if properly taken care of.
On its way to the Geographical Indication Registry (GIR), Changalikodan bananas are typically cultivated on the banks of the Bharathapuzha river. Farmers in Erumapetty, Wadakkancherry, Mundoor, Kaiparambu, Desamangalam and Thayyur have been cultivating this variety for generations.
The pricing is determined by visual appeal and quality. It is often offered as ‘Kaazhchakula’ to the presiding deity of the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple.
According to Dr Rema Menon of the Banana Research Station, Kannara, farmers take great care to look after this variety even at the planting stage. Therefore, the bananas have been fetching fancy prices.
“It is also tastier and more visually appealing than any other variety,” she said.
Dr C R Elsy, College of Horticulture, Vellanikkara, who is also the coordinator of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) Cell of Kerala Agricultural University, said that 80 per cent of the work in this direction has been done, and that the remaining tasks will be finished soon.
“We have written to the Agriculture Department for getting a geographical map of the variety. After receiving the map, we will submit all the relevant documents to the authorities concerned,” she said.
According to farmers in the region, about 10 lakh bunches of Changalikodan bananas will hit the market during the Onam season. “Though this variety occupies one-third of the total area under plantain cultivation in the district, production is significantly less than the demand as compared to the other varieties,” they said. Sadasivan, an Erumapetty-based farmer, said that the farmers here have been following traditional farming methods, including the use of organic manures, as most of the customers purchase this to present it as gifts for others.
“Factors like selection of sucker, soil and sunlight are also determine the perfect colour of the fruit,” he opined. He added that the cultural operations are unique to these zones and are aimed at making the banana bunches as visually appealing as possible.
Experts said that the inter-cropping interventions in the coconut plantations here showed that the Changalikodan recorded the highest net returns for the last few years. This stout variety can withstand winds to a certain extent, and it is resistant to diseases that affect the other varieties.