Mangosteen millionaire and chicken feathers

A great-grandson reaping the fruits of his great-grandfather's deeds (literally), a designer upcycling chicken feathers into wool and paper, a class 8 student conserving native seeds, and the abandoned town of Dhanushkodi are all part of this newsletter

Rashmi Pratap
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Mangosteen millionaire and chicken feathers

Mangosteen millionaire and chicken feathers

Dear Reader,

I will start this newsletter with a small story. Over a hundred years back, Moothedan from Pariyaram village in Kerala went to Malaysia for studies and then took up a job there. On his return, he put some seeds of mangosteen, an exotic fruit native to Malaysia, in his pocket. He planted them on his farm. The few trees yielded fruits but his family never sold them as they did not see a market.

In the late 1980s, his great-grandson Merlin took some fruits from that tree and planted seeds on his farm (the property was divided over generations). After eight years, Merlin sold the first crop to a supermarket at Rs60 per kg. 

Today, Merlin and his sons Midhun and Manu have 1,000 mangosteen trees, with the older ones yielding 300 kg in one season. The fruits sell at an average of Rs300 per kg (Rs90,000 per tree). Merlin told me the family supplies mangosteen all over India by air cargo. 

It is a classic case of great-grandchildren reaping the fruits of the seeds sown by their great-grandfathers. I am sure you will enjoy reading this piece.

The other interesting story this week was written by my colleague Aruna. She wrote about wool and paper made from, guess what? Chicken feathers! Radhesh Agrahari’s Golden Feathers upcycles chicken waste into handloom wool and paper, reducing environmental pollution. 

Launched in 2019, the sustainable enterprise has saved over 600 tonnes of waste from going to landfills and water bodies, and it clocked Rs1 crore in revenues last fiscal. It has done all this while providing livelihood to tribal women and over 5,000 ragpickers. Total impact startup!

From Odisha, my colleague Niroj wrote about Harshita Priyadarshini Mohanty, a class 8 student, who began collecting and conserving native seeds in 2020. Inspired by Kamala Pujari, a farmer awarded the Padma Shri for her conservation efforts, Harshita started visiting farms to collect indigenous seeds.

She now has over 180 varieties of indigenous paddy and more than 80 types of millet seeds that she shares freely with farmers and promotes organic farming. Harshita has spoken at national and international forums on sustainable farming and native seeds. Her story shows how our actions can influence the younger generation and make the world better.

With summer at its peak, we have a web story on Jodhpur’s lakes full of water centuries after they were built. It’s interesting how kings and queens ensured the supply of water throughout the year in the desert region.

And our Sunday piece is on Dhanushkodi – an abandoned town that has ‘the last road of India’.

In the Money section, my colleague Karan says that the record-high valuation of mid and small-cap stocks suggests that equity investors are now better off switching to large-cap stocks. The reasons behind this are detailed in the story. 

Happy Reading!




Father-son trio reaps bumper mangosteen harvest; older trees yield 300 kg per season


UP man’s innovative venture upcycles chicken feathers to make wool and paper; clocks over Rs 1 crore in revenues


Odisha schoolgirl saves 260 varieties of native paddy and millet seeds


Centuries-old lakes of Jodhpur full of water even today


Dhanushkodi: An abandoned town and the last road of India