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‘Phule Bhagwa’ the Revolutionary Variety of Pomegranate in India

One of the most important fruit crops cultivated for commerce in Maharashtra is the pomegranate. Commercial growers of the cultivars are generally Ganesh, G-137, and Mridula. Bhagwa developed in 2003 brought a new phase to pomegranate cultivation.

Sonali Behera
Rise in global demand for pomegranates has lead to high rate of production.
Rise in global demand for pomegranates has lead to high rate of production.

Pomegranates are a crop with considerable value. Pomegranate trees as a whole have significant economic value. In addition to the need for fresh fruit and juice, processed goods like pomegranate wine, pomegranate tea, and candies are also becoming more significant in international trade.

Pomegranate trees offer several medicinal benefits and significant potential for usage in the leather and dying industries. People from rural regions as well as employed urban youth who are having uncultivated ancestral land are going into pomegranate farming to experience the delights of the fruit of heaven. They are fascinated by its countless health and financial benefits.

Due to the rise in global demand for pomegranates, production has also increased.

Some farmers have proven they can make up to 1.5 lakhs per hectare per year in profits. Due to its suitability for the terrain and agro-climate of arid and semi-arid regions, pomegranate is an excellent crop for the sustainability of small holdings.

Additionally, it offers a lot of possibilities for livelihood stability because it has the capability to use the region's abundant wastelands and is a great crop for diversification. Even with a small piece of land, growers can contribute significantly to GDP.

Pomegranate production and area have steadily increased in the past in the nation. It is grown throughout 2.62 lakh hectares in 2018–19, yielding 30.36 lakh MT. The area planted with pomegranates is predicted to grow from 1.20 lakh hectares now to 7.5 lakh ha by the year 2025. As a result, by the year 2025, the output is expected to double by 10 and exports to multiply by 6.97.

Evolution of the Revolutionary Variety ‘Phule Bhagwa’

In order to conduct specialized pomegranate research, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) established the All India Coordinated Research Centre on Arid Zone Fruits (AICRP-AZF) at the Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (MPKV), Rahuri (Maharashtra), and one of its coordinating centers at the ICAR-Central Institute for Arid Horticulture (ICAR-CIAH), Beechwal, Bikan. The cultivar is relatively resistant to the blackening of aril, less prone to fruit cracking and fruit spot, and tolerant to thrips and mites.

The Phule Bhagwa (often referred to as Bhagwa) variety, is a soft-seeded type with a vivid red appealing rind and aril color, was released by MPKV, Rahuri in 2003–2004 as a result of research conducted under the ICAR–AICRP on Arid Zone Fruits. Compared to the classic cultivar Ganesh, which has pink-colored arils, this variety quickly rose in popularity. India's pomegranate farming has undergone a transformation thanks to the cultivar Bhagwa.

About the Variety ‘Phule Bhagwa’

The Mahatma Phule Agriculture University, Rahuri has recommended that the "Bhagwa" variety of pomegranate be grown commercially. This variety is currently grown under the names "Shendari," "Ashtagandha," "Mastani," "Jai Maharashtra," and "Red Daina" in a number of Maharashtra districts, including Solapur, Nashik, Sangli, Satara, Ahemadnagar, Pune, and Dhule.

The "Bhagwa" type of pomegranate is a strong yielder and has good fruit characteristics, according to extensive survey studies on pomegranate plantations. This cultivar takes 180–190 days to reach maturity, with a typical fruit output per tree of 30.38 kg. It is appropriate for distant markets because of its larger fruit size, tasty, bold, and appealing arils, glossy, and highly attractive thick saffron-colored skin. In comparison to other pomegranate types, this one was shown to be less prone to fruit spots and thrips.

The Bhagwa cultivar's plant is an evergreen shrub of the spreading kind with dark green leaves and spiky branches. The leaves are opposite, ovate, and lanceolate.

The blooms are borne terminally or auxiliary in a single or cluster and are a deep saffron color. Flowers come in three sex varieties: male, hermaphrodite, and bisexual. It blooms during the three bahar seasons (Ambe, Mrig, and Hastha).

Why go for Bhagwa Variety?

  • Saffron-colored fruit with a glossy surface is very alluring and draws attention, making it the top pick for customers.

  • Large fruit size (405.97 g 70.40); soft seeds; bold, dark crimson arils; and sweet-tasting flesh, making it suitable for both local and international markets.

  • Has an average fruit output per tree of 30-35 kg and matures in 180-190 days.

  • Better keeping qualities than other types. Excellent fruit quality with significant antioxidant content and suited for both table and processing use (15-20 days under ambient conditions).

  • Due to the thick rind, it can be transported to markets that are far away.

  • Requires fewer pesticide applications since they are less prone to fruit spots and thrips than other kinds.

  • It commands superior market values that are two to three times more than those of the older widely used variation Ganesh.

  • There is a significant demand for exports, mainly to the United Kingdom, Holland, and other European, Gulf, and Asian nations.

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