Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) sparkle in tropical and sub-tropical regions due to hardiness, consumer preference products and nutritional quality

Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) is a favorite table fruit in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world which belongs to family Lyrthaceae, having 2n=16 number of chromosome. It is native to Iran but extensively cultivated in Mediterranean regions especially in Spain, Morocco, Egypt and Afghanistan. Also, it is being cultivated in Burma, China, Japan, USA, USSR, Bulgaria and Southern Italy. India is the leading pomegranate producer which contributes nearly 50% of the world's production. Pomegranate is being cultivated on a 63,000 hectares area of 5.00 lakh tonnes in India with production of 8.20 lakh tonnes. However the total world trade of pomegranate is around 1.00 to 1.12 lakh tonnes, India ranks second with an annual export of 33,415 tonnes after Iran (67,000 tonnes) (MEDC, Monthly Economic Digest, 2012). The Maharashtra state, alone occupies an area of 98,900 ha followed by Karnataka 13,200 ha. Andhra Pradesh 5,600 ha. and Gujarat 4,400 ha. Even Maharashtra is having largest area of 0.99 lakh ha. but production and productivity are 5.55 lakh tonns and 5.6 tonns per ha., respectively.

Similarly India, is having largest area and production under pomegranate, compared to other pomegranate growing countries like Spain 18.5 tonnes per ha., USA 18.3 tonnes per ha. and Turkey 11.3 tonnes per ha. But the productivity of India is quite lower 6.56 tonnes per ha. The most popular varieties suitable for processing and table use of pomegranate are Ganesh, Mridula, Arakta, Bhagwa, Supar Bhagwa. Area under pomegranate is increasing worldwide because of its hardy nature, wider adaptability, drought tolerance, higher yield levels, excellent keeping quality and remunerative prices in domestic as well as export markets. This crop is also become popular due to its well survival in dry tropics and sub-tropics and grow well in soils of low fertility status, salt tolerant etc. The pomegranate fruit has wide consumer preference for its attractive, juicy, sweet, acidic and refreshing arils. Besides these there is a growing demand for quality fruits towards table purpose as well as in processing industries for juice, syrup and wine. The seed with fleshy portions of sour pomegranate are dried and marketed as "Anardana", which is being used as a condiment for curries.

Pomegranate is good source of carbohydrates and minerals such as calcium, iron and sulphur. It is rich in vitamin C and citric acid, which is the predominant organic acid in pomegranate (Malhotra et al., 1983). The Glucose (5.46%) and fructose (6.14%) are the main source of sugars present in pomegranate. Pomegranate having some health benefit is as fallow.

Health benefits of Pomegranate

The fruit is moderate in calories: 100 g provides 83 calories(slightly more than that in the apples).
It contains no cholesterol or saturated fats.
It is a good source of soluble and insoluble dietary fibers.
The fruit is suggested by nutritionists in the diet for weight reduction and cholesterol controlling programs.
Regular consumption of fruits in the diets boosts immunity, improves blood circulation, and offers protection from cancers.
It contains punicalagin and tannins are effective in reducing heart-disease.
Regular consumption of pomegranate has also been found to be effective against prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), diabetes, and lymphoma.
It is an also good source of many vital B-complex groups of vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), folates, pyridoxine and vitamin K, and some minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, and manganese.

References (if any)

1. Malhotra, N. K., Khajuria, H. N. and Jawanda, (1983). Studies on physio-chemical characters of pomegranate cultivars II. Chemical characters. J. Punjab Horticulture. 23 : 158.
2. Image from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomegranate) - By Anton Croos

About Author / Additional Info:
Dr. Deepak R Sapkal, Assistant Professor (Genetis and Plant Breeding), Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar, State : Punjab (INDIA)
AKSHAY DANGE ,M.Sc. Student (Genetics and Plant Breeding)
JITENDRA WAYDE, M.Sc. Student (Genetics and Plant Breeding)
VAISHALI SAPKAL, M.Sc. Student (Genetics and Plant Breeding)