It is perhaps not known to many that India is the largest producer of guava in the world with an average annual production of around 21 MT. Though a fair portion of the annual produce is consumed as a table fruit, Indian guava varieties are ideally suited for manufacturing fruit pulp, puree, juice, syrup, flavoured yoghurts, concentrate and others as they are tastier, with an excellent sugar acid blend and have a higher Brix value as compared to other varieties grown in the world.
The popular varieties grown across India are Arka Kiran, Taiwan Pink, Allahabad Safeda, Arka Mridula, Arka Amulya and L49 to name a few and the newly released hybrid of Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) called Arka Poorna. Arka Poorna will change the fortunes of small and marginal farmers who cultivate guavas in drylands. This high-yielding hybrid is the second-largest guava of the country weighing about 200 to 230 gm, is rich in Vitamin C, has fewer seeds making it a delectable table fruit and extremely pulpy. It is estimated that the average annual yield of this tree will be around 50 to 80 kg.
Koppal district in Karnataka, a drought prone area is famous for its desi pink guava that is widely used in the pulping industry. Besides guava, Koppal is known for its high-quality mango, custard apple, cashew, Turkey fig, rice, kavali hannu (Carissa carandas), pomegranate, grapes, papaya, vegetables and medicinal and aromatic plants.
Koppal district is an arid region with deep loamy saline and alkali soil with low to medium water holding capacity. The hot and dry summers, cool and pleasant winters and average annual rainfall of around 570 mm is ideal for the cultivation of guavas.
Farmers prefer using traditional methods, vermicompost and neem powder for the trees and nets to avoid pest attacks and minimum use of pesticides. Harvesting of guavas is done between July to mid-November. The guavas are graded based on size, colour and weight.
It is quite common to see a number of vendors with stalls set up under shady trees from Raichur to Koppal. Koppal guavas are much sought-after in the food processing industry for its natural sweetness and high pulp content.
The government is planning to set up a guava fruit processing cluster in Koppal as part of its One District One Product (ODOP) initiative. These guavas will now be exported to Qatar, Germany, Singapore, Oman, Maldives, Canada, UK, Spain and others.
Koppal guavas are rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C, A and E, reduces the risk of heart disease and improves one’s general health.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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