Sudhir Chadha from Uttranchal has a way with papayas

Chadha's tryst with papayas began in 1979, when he first grew 40 papaya plants on his father's 45-acre farm in Kaladhungi near the Jim Corbett tiger reserve. This sparked an interest in plant breeding-a course trod by few as it demands the expertise of a scientist and the skill of a seasoned farmer. But Chadha was successful and in 1986, he developed a dwarf papaya variety.

Christened Farm Selection-1, the variety's popularity soon spread. Fame followed closely behind, earning Chadha the sobriquet "Papaya Man" and the 1991 Innovative Farmers Award from ICAR.

Today, 48-year-old Chadha is one of India's most successful papaya growers, selling 700 tonnes of the fruit and 300 kg of seeds yearly. Chadha is now motivating households in the predominantly Dalit village of Dhapla to cultivate custard apples.

(From the archives: This article appeared in India Today in 2004)
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