Pomegranate growers in Karnataka and Maharastra who were exporting the fruit and were facing some problems in recent years can expect some relief. The farm scientists are drawing up new strategies to overcome the problems.
India is the largest producer of pomegranate next only to Iran. During 2007-2008 pomegranate had covered an area of 122,000 hectares with a production of 858,000 tonnes and the productivity was 7 tonnes per hectare. The area under the crop had increased in Karnataka and Maharastra at a rapid pace during the past few years. The fruit is fetching much foreign exchange for the country as sizeable quantity of fruits is being exported from these states. India exported 35.2 thousand tonnes of fruits valued at Rs 911 million. Till recently there were no serious constraints in its production but the problems of wilt and bacterial blight have caused its area to dwindle suddenly.
L Manjunath of University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad who is heading the agricultural extension education wing said pomegranate aril juice provides 16 per cent of an adult’s daily vitamin C requirement per 100 ml serving and is a good source of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and antioxidant polyphenols. He said in preliminary laboratory research and human pilot studies juice of the pomegranate was effective in reducing heart disease risk factors.
Manjunath informed that pomegranate seed oil, containing polyphenols which inhibit estrogen synthesis was effective against proliferation of breast cancer cells.
The UAS, Dharwad has teamed up with International Society for Horticultural Sciences and has invited 40 scientists from Iran, Israel, Turkey, Jordon, Tunisia, Afghanistan, California, South Africa and Italy besides 175 Indian scientists to participate in the five-day International symposium on pomegranate and other Mediterranean fruits starting June 23 at the UAS.
The agenda is to address the emerging issues and to sustain the growth in area, production and productivity of the fruits, to take stock of the achievements and further challenges.
It is expected to enlighten the participants on world wide research achievements pertaining to pomegranate, custard apple, fig, jackfruit, wood apple, jamun and other minor Mediterranean fruits like olive, strawberry and sweet cherry.
Union minister of state for agriculture K V Thomas, Karnataka agriculture minister S A Ravindranath, horticulture minister Umesh Katti, horticulture commissioner Gorakh Nath, ICAR director V T Jadhav, NHM joint secretary S K Pattanayak and ISHS representative Ahsen Isiki Ozguven will be present at the inaugural session on Tuesday.