Last year, when newspapers and social media woke up to the news of a certain mango variety being dedicated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, everyone's attention shifted to 78-year-old "Mango crusader". Hailing from Malihabad in Uttar Pradesh, Haji Kalimullah Khan is a mango cultivator who is either growing varieties of mangoes, experimenting with its flavors, naming a celebrity over each of the indigenous brands, or growing 300 varieties of mangoes on a single tree. Yes, you heard it right!
This sixth standard pass-out has pioneered the art of cultivating mangoes. He says,
Mango cultivation runs in our family, and we have been doing this for the past 300 years. Our ancestors in our rajwadas used to have huge mango orchards that grew beautiful hybrids. I cultivated a mango tree at the age of 17, which had seven varieties of mangoes in it, and all had different tastes and flavours.
Since then, I have been trying to grow new hybrids every year to show that it is possible to introduce newer varieties, he told NDTV.
Father of eight children, Kalimullah grabbed the headlines when he named a mango variety after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and called it "NaMo Aam". A hybrid of Kolkata's Husn-e-Aara and Lucknow's Dussehri, he plans to grow the variety at Modi's hometown. In the past, he had dedicated mango varieties to yesteryear actor Nargis Dutt, Bollywood actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Cricket prodigy Sachin Tendulkar, and Anarkali, the popular character in the movie "Mughal-e-Azam."
“The 'NaMo' mango will remain even when we are gone and will remind people of Narendra Modi and his success. We wish to meet him once. We will be very happy if he visits us once and sees the 'NaMo aam' ripen, he told ZeeNews.
He also grows a certain breed of guava, which on ripening becomes as red as an apple. Kalimullah is also the recipient of the Padma Shri award.