catalogues over 445 types of edible fruits

The website is rudimentary, but the research is in-depth. From the humble banana to the Royal Mango to Louhan Guo, the world’s sweetest fruit, catalogues more than 445 types of edible fruits found across the world.

A one-man venture, the website was started five years ago by Chitranjit Parmar (74), a horticultural scientist from Himachal Pradesh, to educate netizens about his passion. It has now touched one million hits, with a chunk of them coming from the U.S., Europe and Australia.

“There are over 4,500 edible fruits, most found in the wild, while only 300 are commercially mass produced. My aim is to ensure there is enough information about these fruits,” he told The Hindu during a visit to the city recently to promote cultivation of apples in the tropical climes of the State.

The website was launched in May 2008, with a database of 200 fruits — with pictures, areas of cultivation, type of fruit, and some times even if its cultivation can be undertaken in India. Since then it has steadily grown in size, averaging one fruit per week. What makes the website unique is that it goes beyond basic nutritional information or description, and focuses on its cultivation and horticultural details – which will be beneficial to growers.

His professional and personal travels across the country and 32 other countries have given him exposure to many an exotic fruit. For example, one page lists the application of fertilizer to Mamon fruit, found in Tropical America, while another talks of the possible commercial exploitation of Galo fruit found mainly in East and South East Asia.

However, what disappoints him is the lack of user contributions, the foundation for websites like this. “When I started it, I had hoped that farmers across the world would contribute. I have not received even a single contribution so far,” he said.

This does not stop the prolific writer, who spends around 16 hours a day collating and typing out facts from his home in Mandi, Himachal. Though dedication is never in deficit, funds usually are. He recalls the difficulties in getting web designers for the pay he was offering. Consequently, the layout of the website is patchy, and outdated, with numerous kinks. However, on this website, it is substance over style.

He is thrilled that after five years, the website is attracting advertisements. “I get around $100 a month, which for a retired person like me is good pocket money that allows me to travel the country and see various cultivations.”

The website was started by Parmar, a horticulturalist