Few fruits on this earth have captured the taste buds of humans like the Pomegranate has done. The seeds have a deep reddish color as red as blood, yet unbelievably sweet. Green Thumbs spoke to Director of the Institute of Indigenous Medicine on this fruit, as old as civilization itself.
Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) is an important fruit crop grows in Sri Lanka which is rich in therapeutic and pharmaceutical properties. Though the history of pomegranate usage goes back to many thousand years, pomegranate has gained momentum of commercial significance in recent past.
Hapuarachchi points out that the Pomegranate is enriched with in organic acids, phenolic compounds, sugars, water-soluble vitamins minerals and having enormous health benefits for preventing coronary heart diseases, cancers, cardiovascular disease, diarrhoea, gastric ulcer, aging and brain disorders.
Pomegranate is now being cultivated commercially in Mediterranean region, India, China and Japan. In Sri Lanka, pomegranate is cultivated as a medicinal plant and as well as a fruit. The extent under cultivation is about 1,678 ha and anticipated total production is about 66,404 mt.
Nimali, Daya and Nayana are the three recommended varieties by the Department of Agriculture in Sri Lanka; Nimali has become the most popularly grown variety with preferable economical attributes like high yielding ability, soft seeded and sweet fruit taste except yellow in peel colour and pale pink arils. Average yield is about 5.71 mt/ha per year or 5.7 kg/plant and average fruit weight of variety Nimali is about 200 g. Variety Daya is also similar to Nimali having soft seeds, sweet taste and yellow colour peel. Compared to the other varieties, variety Nayana has bigger fruits with high juice content with hard seeds.
Pomegranate Punica granatum was first introduced to Sri Lanka, possibly through ancient trade routes, thousands of years ago.
Now you have the good opportunity to cultivate your agricultural land / bare land with pomegranate. Pomegranate cultivation can be maintained as a very successful cultivation in dry zone regions of Sri Lanka, and can also be sold to the market at a higher rate. If you want to use your land for agro-industry, you can start a pomegranate with a rich harvest and earn a fortune.
Almost all Pomegranate varieties are found to be susceptible to the Pomegranate butterfly (Virachola isocrates) which is the most common pest in Sri Lanka. The caterpillar of the butterfly enters the fruits and feeds on it.
In Sri Lanka, there are several fungus diseases which affect the Pomegranate cultivation.
- Anthracnose fruit rot – Caused by Sphaceloma punicae
- Aspergillious fruit rot – Caused by Aspergillus spp.
iii. Penicillum fruit rot – Caused by Penicillium spp.
Fresh fruits of Pomegranate could be used for enjoying at the table. In some countries such as Iran, the juice is a very popular beverage. In future, fruit juice extraction can be introduced as a cottage industry in Sri Lanka. Also, extracted juice may be concentrated and frozen for future use. It may be made in to a thick syrup for use as a sauce. It is also often converted into wine.
Pomegranate is adapted to a wide range of climate conditions. It does well under desert conditions and produce high quality fruits when grown in loamy soil especially in locations with cool winter and a dry summer. In Sri Lanka most suitable districts for cultivation are Hambantota, Puttalum, Manar, Anuradapura, Jaffna, Monaragala.
“Pomegranates is a tropical plant and grows easily in tropical countries. In Sri Lanka it is grown everywhere. According to the geographical factors the taste of the fruit is different,” said Hapuarachchi.
There are three types of Pomegranates – Sweet, Sweet and Sour and Sour. It all depends on the ecological and geographical factors.
“So you get fruits of different tastes in different areas. The Indian varieties are very tasty and very sweet and these are imported to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan varieties are very sour. However it is in the market and grown in home gardens,” stated Hapuarachchi
The Pomegranate is red and round and its skin is thick and inedible, but contains hundreds of edible seeds called Arils within. They are rich in fiber, Vitamins, Minerals, but they also contain some sugar.
“The Indian varieties have very fleshy arils. But some other fruits have very thin arils. The seeds of the Indian Pomegranates are deep red, but in Sri Lanka it is pinkish. Earlier because of the sour taste it was not very popular, but now it is popular with the sweet varieties coming into Sri Lanka,” pointed out Hapuarachchi
The Pomegranate is a popular value added product.
“We can use Pomegranates to make Pomegranate juice or as a cordial. We can use it as a flavor for Yogurt and Ice Cream. Many value added products can be created by using Pomegranates. Pomegranate powder (made by the outer covering) can be used as medicinal properties. In Sri Lanka of course it is a costly fruit,” added Hapuarachchi.
Ek anar saw bimar in Indian means – ‘1 Pomegranate can be used for a 100 diseases’! It is among the healthiest fruits in the world. That is what the Indian
“Pomegranates have great value. The young leaves are used for the cleaning and washing of the eyes, when boiled in water for eye infections. It is a Kapruka, in the sense that leaves, flowers and fruits are all used. According to Ayurveda it helps to maintain our body homogeneously,” explained Hapuarachchi.