ISP Lucknow Bureau
Padma Shri Haji Kalimullah Khan of Mahilabad is the Indian horticulturist popular as the Mango Man. With the rare accomplishment of growing 300 varieties of mangoes in a single tree with grafting techniques to his credit, Khan is an inspiration to a whole new generation of mango growers in Uttar Pradesh.
82-year-old Khan is a pioneering farmer and has made a distinct name for himself with rare feats like growing a mango variety called ‘Anarkali’ which has two different skins and two different layers of pulp, each having a different taste. Apart from this breed, his several innovative varieties of mangoes are named after public leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Yogi Adityanath and many more. His most popular breed is the NaMo variety, named after Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Not just politicians, he has dedicated his mango varieties to actor Nargis Dutt, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. A grateful nation awarded him the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri in 2008 for his contributions to agricultural innovations.
Hailing from Mahilabad, the region famous for mango varieties, Khan is a 6th-grade dropout from school but his persistent efforts with his family elders helped him learn scientific ways of breeding and cultivating healthy and tasty fruits. Apart from mangoes, his areas of work also include breeding papaya varieties and many other fruits. He also grows a certain breed of guava, which on ripening becomes as red as an apple.
His family has a recorded history of breeding mangoes for at least 300 years. His ancestors had mango orchids and the fruits were supplied to royal families across India. He traces his interest in working on mango farms from the age of 17 when he successfully tried his hand to breed 7 varieties of mangoes in a single tree with different tastes and flavours.
Talking to television channels after receiving the state award, Khan revealed that his interest to grow mangoes emanates from his ardent wish to make Uttar Pradesh the mango capital of the world. He is striving to grow varieties that are high in nutrient value, tasty and affordable to the common masses.
Talking to reporters he claims he is just a ‘cipher’ meaning zero. He says nature has multifold bounties to give if only we could give heed to it and take care of it. He prefers the young generation to explore the immense possibilities in farming and horticulture. Even at his age, he travels by bicycle and meets people on the way from his home to his farm. Post covid, his business has gone online and is delivering orders to different parts of the country.