LATIN NAME:(Punica granatum)
Historically, the pomegrante has been associated with fertility and ripe health. From the latin phrase “grained apple,” the pomegranate is mentioned in Ancient Egyptian documents, the Bible, as well as Ancient Roman recipes for love. Belonging to the myrtle family of trees, the pomegranate has long been revered as a both a life-giving and aesthetically pleasing fruit.
Pomegranates have originated from Iran. Its is cultivated in Spain, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Japan, Russia, America, and India. Maharashtra State is the leading producer of pomegranates in India. In India more than 0.1 million hectares of area is under pomegranate cultivation presently. In Maharashtra pomegranate is cultivated in the districts of Solapur, Nasik, Ahemadnagar, Pune, Sangli, Dhule, Latur, Usmanabad, Jalna, Parbhani, Aurangabad, Beed and Satara.
Main Vaireties are Ganesh, Phule Arakta, Mridula, & Bhagwa. The fruits are available for exports mainly from July to September.
HERBAL PROPERTIES AND USES:
This fruit is extremely rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. Currently the extracts, juice and oils of this fruit are being studied for their potent anti-inflammatory agents, as well as their ability to reduce muscular aches and pains. Pomegranate seed oil, as well as pomegranate juice, is known to fight free radicals, reduce swelling, prevent aging, and act as an overall protectant for sunburned and ultraviolet-damaged skin. Studies from Israel have indicated that pomegranate juice reduces breast cancer cells, and may prevent breast cancer cells from even forming. The juice is also being studied for its potential ability to inhibit the development of lung cancer, slow the growth of prostate cancer, as well as in the prevention of osteoporosis. The fruit is an excellent support for lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and raising HDL (good cholesterol), and may even protect your teeth from decay!
Pomegranate Cultivation and Growing Methods
Fruit and seeds.
This hardy shrub does best when planted in well-drained soil, although it can also grow in many difference types of soils, from acid loam to alkaline soil.
This fruit grows best in full-sun and warmth, although it can be grown in partial shade. The shrub is also fairly drought tolerant.
Grows well in USDA growing Zones 7-10. Grows wild in Northern India, southern Europe and California.
Its best to buy pomegranate shrub cuttings from a local nursery. The cuttings should be approximately fifteen inches in length. Pomegranate trees will yield fruit approximately three years after planting.
The flowers of the pomegranate shrub are self-pollinating. One can also improve the fertility of the plant through cross pollination.
Yearly flowers and seeds during spring time, after three years of growth.
The red, bulbous fruit of the pomegranate should be harvested when the color is a deep red hue. You can also tap the fruit for a metallic sound to ensure that it is ripe.
DRYING METHODS / YIELD:
Best fresh or in extract form.
The bush of average size can grow approximately 8-10 fruits per growth, and produces an average of two to three average crops of fruit per year.
PRESERVATION / PACKAGING METHODS:
The raw fruit can be preserved and stored for a long time if refrigerated.
ESSENTIAL OIL USE:
Pomegranate oil is very rare and unique. The oil is used mostly for aromatherapy and has an exotic, fruity aroma. It has restorative, antioxidant properties on the skin, and has been shown in laboratory tests to fight both skin and breast cancer.
High in plant phenols (antioxidants), and the ellagitannins punicalagins and punicalin, as well as gallic and ellagic acids.
IS THIS AN EDIBLE PLANT:
CAUTIONS / CONTRAINDICATIONS:
Generally, pomegranate fruit and juice are completely safe, in moderate amounts. Despite the potential health benefits, it would be wise to talk to your healthcare provider if you plan on taking large amounts of the juice or supplements, especially if you have low blood pressure, allergies, are pregnant, or if you are breast-feeding.
A 2006 study from the American Journal of Cardiology suggests that pomegranate may interacts with common medications such as heart medication, calcium channel blockers, statins, immunosuppressants and protease inhibitors. For this reason, consult with your doctor before taking supplemental pomegranate.
Pomegranate cultivation in India
Hatal, a small village in the Tiyuni area of Uttarakhand, has witnessed a quiet revolution over the last decade. A group of progressive farmers have succeeded in growing high-quality pomegranates in this area which had no history of growing the fruit. Pomegranates are mostly grown in western and southern India due to the favourable climatic conditions. These farmers succeeded in growing hybrid varieties of capsicum, tomatoes and broccoli as well.
Prem Chand Sharma, who started the trend, said he had been inspired by the developments in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh where farmers have successfully experimented with crops. “I have seen a change come over there since my childhood. I always wanted to follow their example,” says Sharma who now talks of using the internet to find markets for his village’s produce and plans to plant at least 1000 pomegranate trees over the next five years.
“In our area no one had tried growing pomegranate and it was by chance that we discovered the virtues of this fruit. My father had sprinkled seeds on the land near our house and soon these seedlings blossomed into healthy saplings but despite our best effort they failed to bear fruits. Later in my interaction with officials of the Horticulture Department I learnt that it was a better option to go for plant cuttings. Then on my visit to Kullu in 2005, I procured pomegranate saplings from a farmer named Daljit Singh,” he narrates.
Today all kinds of pomegranate varieties, ranging from Kandhari and Bhagwa to Sinduri and Mridula, dot his 30 bigha farm with as many as 400 of his 700 pomegranate trees bearing fruits.
Not content with the success of his experiment, he utilised the empty space around the trees for growing pumpkin, gourd, cucumber and other seasonal vegetables. His example was soon followed by other farmers in his village.
They then diversified into cultivating off-season vegetables of western origin namely parsley, basil, cherry tomatoes and red cabbages. “We have been able to offload the common variety of tomatoes in the Delhi market and most of us earn between Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 in one season,” he told The Indian Express.
However, the absence of transportation and marketing facilities has played spoiler. “We would like to diversify further provided we get support for quick transportation of our perishable products,” said Sharma.
Pomegranate cultivation in Pakistan
The pomegranate is valued for its delicious juice as well as its nutritive and therapeutic qualities. Some like to eat its seeds while others like to drink pomegranate juice. It is believed to have its origins in northern Africa and western Asia from where it spread to other tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It can tolerate extreme temperatures.
The tree is bushy, with thorny branches, and grows to a height of five metres with brilliant orange flowers. It can be grown in a variety of soils, but for commercial cultivation well-drained and loamy soil is considered the best. The round, melon-sized fruit is full of many tiny red or white seeds, tightly packed artistically in thin, papery sacs in a brown, hard rind.
Wild forms of the pomegranate grown in areas of Kashmir and Murree Hills, being sour, are utilised to make anaar dana, which is used in pulse and vegetable dishes in the subcontinent. Among the Muslim countries, Afghanistan, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are noted producers and exporters of fresh pomegranates. Other major producers are India, China and USA.
In Pakistan, Balochistan is the main producer of pomegranates, although Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Punjab are also producing pomegranates in isolated areas on a small scale.
Pomegranate can be propagated from seed, but seed pomegranate fruits are inferior in quality, hence 40m-long cuttings from a one-year old branch of the pomegranate tree and air (another method of propagation) are mostly practised to ensure desired results. The cuttings, after a year of planting, are re-transplanted in orchards and the tree starts bearing fruit in three years.
The fruiting comes in full swing within ten years of planting. Dwarf varieties are planted in pots for ornamental purposes rather than for their fruit. Pomegranate fruit has good staying quality and can be kept in cold storage for two to three months without any harm to its quality.
Pomegranate juice is a panacea for high blood pressure and cardiac patients. The juice can also fight cancers and prevents many other disorders. The edible parts of pomegranate fruit is 52 per cent of total fruit weight, comprising 78 per cent of juice and 22 per cent seeds. The seeds are a rich source of total lipids, protein, crude fibres, ash, pectins and total sugars. 100 grams of pomegranate juice contains the following nutrients:
Energy 346 kg, carbohydrates 18.7 g, sugar 13.7 g, fibre 4.0 g, fat 1.2 g, protein 1.7 g, thiamin 0.07 mg, riboflavin 0.07 mg, niacin 0.29 mg, pantothenic acid 0.38 mg, vitamin B6 0.08 mg, folate 38 µg, vitamin C 10 mg, calcium 10 mg, iron 0.3 mg, magnesium 12 mg, phosphorus 36 mg, potassium 236 mg, zinc 0.35 mg.
Pomegranate is rich in calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin C, and folic acid. It is an anti-oxidant, blood thinner, reduces systolic BP and heart related problems. It is believed to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and gives protection to arteries. One glass of pomegranate juice daily is considered ideal to remain in good health.
Recent research has shown that pomegranate juice helps to reduce fat around the stomach, risk of stroke, kidney disorders and regulates frequency of urine. Pomegranate has the power to treat jaundice and cough. The juice of the young leaves is styptic and was given to young children suffering from dysentery by grannies. Bark of the trunk expels intestinal worms and also reduces enlarged spleen. The juice is also used to make jellies, beverages and hot and cold sauces for seasoning of cakes.
Pomegranate is a fruit with multiple benefits and worthy of our appreciation and is available in the market from September to February. Kandhari or Kabuli seeds are pulpy, juicy and rated as one of the best quality. Pomegranate seeds are sold by street fruit sellers with a lacing of spices to make it tasty.
Pomegranate cultivation in Pakistan, due to some favourable pockets in the country, needs encouragement. New germplasm need to be imported from the same climatic regions to fit in our climate. Problems like cracking of the fruit are common and need control measures to increase production at home and export.