The ICAR-National Research Centre on Pomegranate, Solapur (Maharashtra), was established on June 16, 2005 by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, as a step to strengthen research and development infrastructure for pomegranate crop. Though Universities and institutes all over the world are having research programmes on pomegranate, this is the only institution working solely on pomegranate. The centre was established to fulfill the growing demand for pomegranate both in domestic and export market through tapping the immense production potential prevailing in the country.
Pomegranate is a high value crop. Entire tree of pomegranate is of great economic importance. Apart from its demand for fresh fruits and juice, the processed products like pomegranate wine, pomegranate tea and candy are also gaining importance in world trade. All parts of pomegranate tree have great therapeutic value and have high potentiality for their use in leather and dying industry. Demand in the international market has widened the scope for earning higher dividends from this crop. Profits upto 1.5 lakhs/ha/annum have been demonstrated by some growers. It is an ideal crop for the sustainability of small holdings, as pomegranate is well suited to the topography and agro-climate of arid and semi-arid regions. In addition, it provides ample opportunity for livelihood security, as it has high potentials to utilize wastelands widely available in the region and an ideal crop for diversification. Moreover, it can make sizeable contribution to GDP with a small area.
Over the past, there has been a steady increase in area and production of pomegranate in the country. In 2014-15, it is cultivated over 1.81lakh ha with a production of 17.89lakh tones and productivity of 9.88 ton/ha. It is proposed that by the year 2025, the area under pomegranate is projected to increase to 7.5 lakhs ha, from 1.20 lakhs ha at present. Consequently production is expected to increase by 10 folds and export by 6.97 folds by the year 2025..
To achieve these targets coordinated and sustained efforts are required by all concerned with pomegranate research and development. We have to orient our research programmes to develop sustainable technologies by making best use of the opportunities to meet the increasing demands and challenges. Potential areas for pomegranate cultivation will have to be identified and non traditional areas will be explored for its cultivation. Though pomegranate can tolerate water stress, it responds well to irrigation and fertigation. Developing hi-tech micro-irrigation systems for water management will therefore be a priority. Desirable traits need to be introduced in existing commercial varieties through hybridization and transgenic lines need to be developed through biotechnology. Rapid multiplication of desired propagating material will be achieved through tissue culture technology. Bacterial blight (Telya) and wilt in pomegranate are the major challenges faced by the pomegranate growers over the past few years and post a severe threat to production and productivity of this commercially important crop. Action plan is being formulated by the ICAR-NRCP for both short term as well as long term solution of this problem through a systematic coordinated research effort. A flagship research programme on this vital issue involving all the stakeholders’ viz., Pomegranate Grower’s Association, representatives from industries, scientific and technical personnel.
The centre presents its perspective plan through Vision 2050. It presents the basic framework of research and development proposed by the centre. The perspective plan emphasizes the methods of achieving the targets through scientific, profitable, ecofriendly and innovative technologies for cultivation, both in traditional as well as non traditional areas thereby, expanding pomegranate area and production. Post harvest processing and value addition will be given top priority. Expansion of export of fresh fruits and processed products will be achieved through organic farming and managing pesticide residues in fruits, which have acceptance in international market.
I gratefully acknowledge the constant guidance / suggestions of Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary DARE and Director General (ICAR), Dr. N.K. Krishna Kumar, Deputy Director General (Hort.) and Dr. T. Janakiram, Assistant Director General (Hort.I), ICAR, New Delhi. Sincere thanks are due to all the scientists & other staff of this Centre for inputs given by them and their efforts in making the document.
Date: 30 June, 2016
R. K. Pal