1.                  INTRODUCTION


Sapota (Achras zapota) commonly known as chiku is mainly cultivated in India for its fruit value, while in South-East Mexico, Guatemala and other countries it is commercially grown for the production of chickle which is a gum like substance obtained from latex and is mainly used for  preparation of chewing gum.  


2.                  OBJECTIVE
The main objective of the study is to present a bankable model for commercial cultivation of the crop through adoption of hi-tech practices. 
3.                  BACKGROUND
3.1       Origin
The fruit is a native of Mexico and other tropical countries of South America.

3.2       Area & Production


The area under sapota cultivation has increased from 27 thousand ha. in 1991-92 to 52 thousand ha. in 2001-02 and production from 3.96 lakh tonnes to 5.94 lakh tones.


Sapota is mostly grown in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. (Vide Table-1)














Table 1 : State-wise Area, Production & Productivity of

Sapota during 2001-02




(‘000 Ha.)


(‘000 MT)











Tamil Nadu




Andhra Pradesh




West Bengal








Daman & Diu












Source : Database of National Horticulture Board, Ministry of Agriculture ,

Govt. of India.


3.3       Economic Importance

The fruit is a good source of digestible sugar (15-20%) and an appreciable source of protein, fat, fibre and minerals (Ca, P and Fe.) Sapota pulp is used for making sweets and halwas. It is also an ingredient of fruit salads and milk shakes. The milky latex secreted by unripe sapota fruits , known as chuckle forms the base for making chicklet and chewing gum.


4.1              Demand and Supply patterns

The fruit is mostly consumed indigenously. Export constituted only a very minor fraction of

production, 0.2% in 2001-02.  Low volume export of sapota is due to non-ideal post harvest practices, transport procedures, lack of proper storage facilities, outdated handling practices.


4.2              Export trends


The trend in export of sapota from India during the period 1999-2000 to 2002-03 is given in Graph-3.

Table-2 : Country-wise export of  sapota from India during 2001-02.






(Rs.  in lakhs)




Saudi Arabia



























 Source : APEDA, New Delhi




4.3              Analysis and Future Strategy


Organized marketing is an important pre-requisite for successful commercial cultivation. Sapota is disposed through two major marketing agencies viz. co-operative and private traders.


Sapota fruit is highly perishable and is also sensitive to cold storage. Therefore, bulk of the produce is used for table purpose and is handled at ambient climatic conditions causing considerable post harvest losses. Due to mishandling of produce about 25-40% is being wasted.  Commercial processing is negligible due to the sensitivity of the fruit to heat (changing the flavour & colour of the pulp), high labour requirement in peeling, removal of seeds etc. Nowadays dry segments and flakes of the fruit are being processed but to a limited extent. Processed food items viz. jam, jelly, squashes and fruit drinks are produced from sapota after blending it with other fruits. It is essential to produce value added products based on sapota, so that farmers get an assured price for their produce all the time.


Creation of essential infra-structure for preservation, cold storage, refrigerated transportation, rapid transit, grading, processing, packaging and quality control are important aspects which need attention to give a fillip to high quality commercial production.

5.                  PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY


5.1              Agro-climatic requirements


Sapota, being a tropical crop can be grown from sea level upto 1200 m. above m.s.l. It needs warm (10-380 C) and humid climate (70% relative humidity) for growth and can be cultivated throughout the year. Coastal climate is best suited for its cultivation.


Alluvial, sandy loam, red laterite and medium black soils with good drainage are ideal for cultivation of sapota.  At higher elevations in places like Punjab and Haryana, it gives only one crop from summer flowering in April and May.


5.2              Growing and Potential Belts

The state-wise growing belts are mentioned below :



Growing belts

Andhra Pradesh

Prakasam, Guntur, West Godavari, Nellore, East Godavari


Valsad, Navsari, Surat, Junagadh, Bhavnagar


Kolar, Bangalore, Chikkamagalu, Belagaum, Raichur


Baleswar, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Khurda, Ganjam

West Bengal

South 24-Parganas, Kalmpong I & II, blocks of Darjeeling district.


5.3              Varieties Cultivated


Important varieties cultivated in different states of India are listed below :




Varieties grown

Andhra Pradesh


Cricket ball, Kalipatti, Calcutta round, Kirthibharathi, Dwarapudi, Pala, PKM-1, Jonnavalasa I & II, Bangalore, Vavi Valsa






Kalipatti, Pilipatti, Cricket Ball, PKM-1



Cricket ball, Kalipatti, Calcutta round, DHS-1, DHS-2



Kalipatti, Dhola Diwani, Cricket ball, Murabba



Cricket ball, Kalipatti

Tamil Nadu


Pala, Cricket ball, Guthi, Co 1, Co 2, PKM-1

Uttar Pradesh



West Bengal


Cricket ball, Calcutta round, Baramasi, Baharu, Gandhevi Barada


5.4              Land Preparation


The land is ploughed two to three times and then leveled. Undulating land is divided into terraces and leveling is done. Tall and thick growing trees viz. mango, jamun, tamarind, silver oak and casuarinas are established on the wind-ward side or on all sides of the orchard. The plants for windbreak may be planted at a distance of 1.5 to 1.8 m. in the row.


5.5              Planting


5.5.1    Planting Material


Sapota is commercially propagated by vegetative methods such as air layering or gootee layering, grafting and budding.


5.5.2   Planting season


Planting can be done in any season provided irrigation facilities are available. Grafts are usually planted in the beginning of the rainy season. In areas which experience heavy rainfall the crop can be planted as late as September.


5.5.3   Spacing


On an average, 130 plants are planted at a spacing of 8.5m. High density planting with a spacing of 5x5 m. upto the age of 13 years has been adopted successfully.


In light soils, pits of 60x60x60 cm. size, whereas in heavy and gravely soils pits of 1x1x1 m. size are made in April-May and exposed to sun for a period of fifteen days. The pits are later on filled with well-rotten compost or farmyard manure, 3 kg. superphosphate and 1.5 kg. muriate of potash. The pits are then left to monsoon rains for settling and planting is done at appropriate time.


Grafts, budded plants or layers are planted one in each pit and care is taken so that the bud joint or graft is at least 15 cm. above the ground level. After planting, stakes are provided to avoid wind damage. Young plants are protected from the sun by making dry grass thatch on top and three sides excepting the south-east for sunlight.


5.5.4   Planting Method


Square system of planting is recommended. Contour planting is recommended in case of sloping land.


5.6              Training


No definite training system has been developed for the plant. Plants raised through inarching require training for appropriate shape and framework development. Most of the trees are trained in central leader system.




5.7              Nutrition


5.7.1    About 50 kg. of farmyard manure , 1 kg. N (1.5 kg. in case of rainfed varieties), 0.5 kg. P2O5 and 0.5 kg. K2O /tree/year are applied and the dose is regulated on the basis of age of the tree and status of nutrients in soil especially of P and K. Under rainfed conditions, fertilizers are applied before the onset of monsoon. Under irrigated conditions, it should be applied in two splits, one half at the beginning of monsoon and the remaining half in the post-monsoon period (September-October).


5.7.2  Micronutrients


In case of Zn and Fe deficiency, organic manures, ZnSO4 and FeSO4 (0.5%) are applied.


5.8              Irrigation


Irrigation is provided at an interval of 30 days in winter and 15 days in summer.


5.8.1 Drip Irrigation


This system has been found to be beneficial in saving 40% water with 70-75 % higher income. This system is laid out with 2 drippers spaced 50 cm. from tree at an initial stage during the first two years and then 4 drippers about 1 m. away from the tree till it attains five years of age.


5.9              Intercultural Operations


The problem of weeds is common in young orchards. Application of 2 kg. bromacil and 2 kg. diuron/ha. as pre-emergence spray is effective in controlling weeds for a period of 10-12 months. 


5.10          Inter-cropping


Inter-cropping with banana, papaya, pineapple and cocoa; french bean, peas, tomato, brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower, cucurbits is recommended depending upon the climate and irrigation facilities available.


5.11          Growth regulators
Fruit drop is a very serious problem in sapota. Spraying with GA3 @ 50-100 ppm. at the time of flowering is quite effective for getting better fruit set and also preventing fruit drop.
5.12          Pruning
Pruning is done to expose the trees to sunlight and to remove the dead and diseased branches. It is mainly done to regulate the vegetative growth in order to improve the productivity and quality of fruits.
5.13.        Plant Protection Measures
5.13.1  Insect Pests
Leaf webber, hairy caterpillars and bud worm are the common pests. Spraying with phosalone 35 EC (2 ml./l.), chloropyriphos 20 EC or endosulfan 35 EC have been found to be effective in controlling the pests.
5.13.2  Diseases


The main diseases reported are leaf spot (Phleopheospora indica), base rot (Ceratocystis paradoxa), heart rot (Phytophthora parasitica) and anthracnose (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides). Application of Dithane M-45, copper oxychloride (3 g./l.) etc. have been found to be effective.


5.14          Harvesting  and Yield


Sapota starts bearing from third year of planting but economic yields can be obtained from 5th year onwards. The two main seasons of flowering are October- November and February-March and the two corresponding harvesting seasons are January-Februrary and May-June. Sapota takes four months from flowering to maturity of fruits.


The fruits are hand picked or harvested with special harvester which has a round ring with a net bag fixed onto a long bamboo.


The crop bearing commences from fifth year.  As such inter cropping like vegetables may be taken up in the first four years of the project make it viable.  In high density plantation, the production increases from 4.0 tonnes/acre in the fifth year to 6.0 tonnes/acre in the 7th year. Thereafter, the yield stabilizes at 8.0 tonnes/acre from 8th to 15th year.


6.                  POST HARVEST MANAGEMENT


6.1              Grading


Grading is mainly based on size and shape of the fruits. The fruits are graded into three categories depending on their size viz. large, medium and small.


6.2              Storage


The fruits are highly perishable and can be stored under ordinary condition for a period of 7-8 days after harvesting. At a storage temperature of 200 C, the storage life can be increased for a period of 21-25 days by removing ethylene and adding 5-10% CO2 to storage atmosphere. The fruits are dipped in GA (300 ppm.) and Bavistin (1000 ppm.) solution at a pre-packing stage in order to extend the storage life of the fruits.


Sapota being a climateric fruit has to be ripened artificially.  Unripe fruits can be ripened by applying ethephon (1000 ppm.) at 20-25 0 C and can be stored for five weeks. Ripened ones can be stored at 2-30 C and 90-95% RH for a period of six weeks.


6.3              Packing


Fruits are packed in cardboard boxes of 10 kg. capacity with rice straw as padding material and ethylene absorbents. Bamboo baskets with banana leaves as lining material and covered with net are used for carrying the produce from farm to local market. In some cases, the produce after harvesting is packed in wooden containers and transported to the urban areas for sale. Wooden boxes prevent damage of ripened fruits and fetch better price in urban areas.


6.4              Transportation


Road transport by trucks/lorries is the most popular mode of transport due to easy approach from orchards to the market.


6.5              Marketing


Several intermediaries like wholesalers and commission agents are involved in marketing of the fruit.  The farmer realizes around 35% of the wholesale .price in the secondary market.


7.                  TECHNOLOGY SOURCES


The major sources for technology are the following :


1.                  Anand Agricultural University, Anand, Tel : (02692)-2262435.

2.                  Junagadh Agricultural University, Motibag, Junagadh, Tel : (0285)-22670289.

3.                  Urban Horticulture Centre,Tamil Nadu Agricuture University, Chennai, Tel : (044)-26443551.

4.                  State Horticulture Research & Development Station, Company Bagan, Distt.- Nadia, West Bengal.

5.                  Progressive growers in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

8.                  ECONOMICS OF A ONE ACRE MODEL


8.1              High density cultivation of crop by using high quality planting material (grafted plants) and drip irrigation leads to multiple benefits viz.


·                     Synchronized  growth, flowering and harvesting;

·                     Reduction in variation of off-type and non-fruit plants;

·                     Improved fruit quality;


Costs & Returns:


8.2              A one acre plantation of the crop is a highly viable proposition.  The cost components of such a model along with the basis for costing are exhibited in Annexures I & II.   A summary is given in the figure below. 


Project Cost: (Unit – One Acre)

                                                                                                                  (Amount in Rs.)

Sl. No.


Proposed Expenditure


Cultivation Expenses




Cost of planting material




Manures & fertilizers




Insecticides & pesticides




Cost of Labour




Others, if any, (Irrigation/Power Charges)











Tube-well/submersible pump




Cost of Pipeline




Others, if any







Drip/Irrigation System







Pump House & Store




Labour Shed




Others (Agri. Implements)







Land Development




Land leveling & layout











Grand Total



8.3              The major components of the model are:


·                     Land Development:  (Rs.4.0 thousand):  This is the labour cost of shaping and dressing the land site.


·                     Fencing (Rs.29.6 thousand):  It is necessary to guard the orchard by barbed wire fencing to safeguard the valuable produce from animals and prevent poaching.


·                     Irrigation Infra-structure (Rs.50 thousand):  For effective working with drip irrigation system, it is necessary to install a bore well with diesel/electric pumpset and motor.  This is part cost of the tube-well


·                     Drip Irrigation & Fertigation System (Rs.20 thousand):  This is average cost of one acre drip system for banana inclusive of the cost of fertigation equipment.  The actual cost will vary depending on location, plant population and plot geometry.


·                     Equipment/Implements (Rs.10 thousand):  For investment on improved manually operated essential implements a provision of another Rs.10 thousand is included.


·                     Building and Storage (Rs.35 thousand):  A one acre orchard would require a labour shed, a store and pump house.


·                     Cost of Cultivation (Rs.26.40 thousand):  In the first year, land preparation and planting operations will involve 40 days of manual labour, the cost of which will come to Rs.2.80 thousand.  The cost of planting material would be Rs.4.0 thousand i.e. 160 plants @ Rs.25 per plant.


8.4              Labour cost has been put at an average of Rs. 70 per man-day.  The actual cost will vary from location to location depending upon minimum wage levels or prevailing wage levels for skilled and unskilled labour.


8.5              Recurring Production Cost:            Recurring production costs during the gestation period are exhibited in Annexure III and during post operative period in Annexure III A.  The main components are planting material, land preparation, inputs application (FYM, chemical fertilizers, plant protection chemicals etc.) and labour cost on application of inputs, inter-cultural and other farm operations. 


8.6              Besides, provision is also included for power charges, labour for harvesting and packing/transportation charges for the produce to the nearest secondary market. 


8.7              Returns from the Project:  The yield from the plantation is obtained from fifth year onwards. The production increases from 4.0 tonnes/acre in the fifth year to 8.0 tonnes/acre in the 8th year and stabilizes thereafter. The produce has been valued at Rs.10.0 per kg.  It might be added that during the initial four years return from inter crops will be around Rs.30,000/- pa.


Project Financing:


8.8.            Balance Sheet:  The projected balance sheet of the model is given at Annexure IV.  There would be three sources of financing the project as below:


                                    Source                                                 Rs.Thousand


                                    Farmer’s share                                               87.50                                      

                                    Capital subsidy                                               35.00 

                                    Term loan                                                        52.50

                                    Total                                                             175.00  


8.9.            Profit & Loss Account:  The post operative cash flow statement may be seen in Annexure V while Annexure VI projects the post operative profit and loss account of the model.  Gross profit goes up from Rs.8.4 thousand to Rs.39.5 thousand in year 5.


8.10.        Repayment of Term Loan:   The term loan will be repaid in eleven equated monthly installments of Rs.4.77 thousand each with a moratorium of 72 months.  The rate of interest would have to be negotiated with the financing bank. It has been put at 12% in the model (vide Annexure VII).  Repayment schedule is given at Annexure VII A.  Depreciation calculations are presented in Annexure VIII.


Project Viability:


8.11.        IRR/BCR:  The viability of the project is assessed in Annexure VIII over a period of 10 years.  The IRR works out to 16.57 and the BCR to 1.3. 


8.12.        The Debt Service coverage ratio calculations are presented in Annexure IX.  The average DSCR works out to 2.41. 


8.13.        Payback Period:  On the basis of costs and returns of the model, the pay back period is estimated at 12.06 years (vide Annexure X). 


8.14.        Break-even Point:  The break even point will be reached in the 3rd year.  At this point fixed cost would work out to 86% of gross sales - vide Annexure XI.