TIRUNELVELI: Farmers growing ‘amla’ (gooseberry) in the district have been advised to go for the manufacture of value added products, since demand for these products across the globe is said to be good.
According to T.V. Katchi Jamal, Deputy Director of Horticulture, Tirunelveli, with many people preferring naturopathy to cure minor ailments or disorders, consumption of ‘amla’ is on the rise and has resulted in large scale cultivation of the fruit, Emblica officinalis, which is its botanical name.
Having its origin in Central and Southern India, ‘amla,’ a rich source of vitamin C, is one of the important fruits found in Ayurvedic formulations. Though table value for this fruit as such is little due to its high acidic or astringent taste, consumption of ‘amla’ in the value-added form has increased exponentially in the recent past, taking the demand to an unprecedented level.
With the implementation of National Horticulture Mission, area under this crop has crossed 2,000 hectares in Tirunelveli district alone and, naturally, productivity of ‘amla’ has increased manifold. Farmers and entrepreneurs hence can attune the taste of the fruit and increase the consumption, Mr. Jamal says.
“Amla is not only a wonderful antioxidant, but also has anti-bacterial, anabolic, hypolipidemic and hypotensive relieving qualities. Studies have proved that ‘amla’ is exceptionally rich in vitamin C (720 mgm to 980 mgm per 100 gm/ml) and pectin containing more than 150 times compared to apple, 30 times to orange and 20 times to that of lemon. Minerals and vitamins content in the fruit does not diminish even after processing it,” Mr. Jamal says.
Horticultural Officer, Palayamkottai, S. Raja Mohamed, says that scope for preparing around 10 value-added products of ‘amla’ and selling them in the Indian markets is quite satisfactory.
“Amla juice, amla powder, amla candy, amla chatpat, amla laddoo, amla pulp, amla burfi, amla murrabba etc., can be prepared by using traditional medicinal plants being used by our ancestors for several hundreds of years. When value-added horticultural products were displayed in New Delhi some months ago, a stall had been dedicated exclusively to showcase value-added ‘amla’ products, which proves the business potential of the fruit,” Mr. Mohamed says.
Farmers and entrepreneurs interested in ‘amla’ processing can get training at Post Harvest Technology Centre, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore. Incubator facility is also available at this centre and is provided to any progressive entrepreneur on a contract basis for one year, for which membership fee is Rs. 5,000, he says.