Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Satyanand Stokes, an American 'freedom fighter' in India who popularized American apples in Himachal Pradesh!!


Satyanand Stokes. Twitter
Above image:  Born Samuel Evans Stokes, this "American in Khadi", a freedom fighter for India in colonial India and jailed for six months by the British, transformed the economy of the tiny hill state by planting apple trees with better yield. 

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Satyanand Stokes ( Samerl Evans Stokes), an American from the rich Quaker family of Philadelphia, besides being a staunch freedom fighter for India and a close follower of Gandhiji during the colonial period, was instrumental in introducing apple cultivation of better varieties in  the region what is now known as Himachal Pradesh.  Though apple cultivation had been there in the region for a long time, he promoted certain varieties of apple trees  and made apple production commercially viable and profitable. By doing so, he helped the small farmers in that region earn income to stand up on their own. The poverty of the people in that region so bad he wanted to do something to get rid of it. The removal of poverty considerably in the local community became his priority and his firm determination helped him a lot. Stokes revolutionized apple production in Himachal Pradesh by  bringing quality apples with better yield.

 Apple orchards were first established in Kotgarh and Kullu  and Stokes  Chose Dhana Dhar Kotgarh area better suitable for the growth of large number of trees.  He also imported different apple varieties  suitable to that region and made a new approach to their cultivation.  Some British variety of apples  already growing in the region  were neither good in taste nor were  popular. The first apple tree in this country was planted by  one Capt. R.C. Lee of the British army in the Kullu valley in 1870.The apples he planted were the Newton Pippins,  King of Pippin and the Cox s Orange Pippin, but unfortunately their sour and tangy taste discouraged the Indian farmers and they did not go for the cultivation of these English varieties.

So, choosing  a new strain of apples  suitable to this region that  would be commercially successful became his first step. On a visit to to Philadelphia in 1914,  he surveyed the  apple plants growing  there  and he brought some apple cuttings with him on his return which he planted near his house.  To follow it through in the next couple of years or more, he tried as many as 33 varieties of apples to determine which would be most suitable for the area. Finally, the choice fell on  the American Delicious variety which had a name in the US. It was quite popular in the NW State of Washington.  Incidentally, when the delicious saplings from Washington state arrived  here, Mrs Agnes received it and plated the saplings on their land as Stokes was jailed in 1921 by the British for his  protest against the visit of Prince of Wales in Punjab. Later, Upon satisfied with the results of the new variety on his own land,  he advised others to try the variety.

The crux of his problem was convincing the local farmers to switch over to apple trees and further  their response was very discouraging because of long gestation period. He gave them free saplings and patiently convinced them once the apple trees started bearing fruit, there would be  no additional seasonal work. The tree would keep bearing fruits seasonally.At last, the farmers became convinced about planting apple trees in their land.  The rest is history!

 Samuel, having done  considerable research on apple trees and their suitability to his farm lands he himself  improved, the farmland he had purchased. His work in 1916, led him to conclude that the   a new strain of apples developed by the Stark brothers of Louisiana, USA  would be an ideal choice for the the Shimla Hills and began cultivating them on his farm. His efforts were successful  resulting bumper crops, beefed-up by Samuel's contact with the white people who ran the export business in Delhi. This  encouraged the other farmers to follow suit and  Samuel guided in very conceivable way. He bought more lands with a view to  growing apple cultivars which the villagers would use to seed their own farms. Stokes, as well planned improved the  quality of life of the farmers and their overall cooperation and efforts gave a boost to the local economy.  Unfortunately, outside Himachal Pradesh, not many people are  aware of the legacy of this great man, who has been rightly bestowed with the title of The Economic Emancipator of The Hills.

Tit-bits:
01. It was only after 1950 that apple production gained momentum. In 1950, 712 hectares of land were under apple production but, now 1.3 lakh hectares are under apple production in the form of big orchards in Himachal with Shimla district accounting for major production.   

02. The apple industry caters to 6 lakh apple growers in 10 districts accounting for produces worth more than  Rs. 2500 crores. 


03. Kinnauri apple is famous globally because of its quality.

04. Because of global warming and its impact on  production the apple belt is shifting to upper areas in Kullu Valley with tribal people in Lahaul & Spiti districts.

https://mysterioushimachal.wordpress.com/tag/satyananda-stokes/
http://hillpost.in/2006/03/how-the-apple-came-to-india/246/