Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Guavas of Ganjam

The small village of Ganjam or Shehar Ganjam near Srirangapatna was several decades ago known for its fruits and vegetables.
Ganjam today is more famous for housing the Daria Daulat-the summer palace of  Tipu, the Gumbaz-where Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan are buried and the Gosai Ghat and Sangam apart from the Nimishamba temple.
Bur just a few years ago, Ganjam was known for its high quality fruits and people of Mysore and surrounding areas literally went gaga over some of the fruits such as guavas.
There are many guava orchards in and around Ganjam and most of the yield was sent to Mysore, Srirangapatna and surrounding towns and cities, including Mandya and Malavalli.
Apart from guavas, Ganjam was also known for rearing good quality jackfruits and even figs, which were first introduced here by Tipu Sultan sometime in 1780. The orchards and fruit gardens in Ganjam received royal patronage from Hyder Ali and his son, Tipu Sultan.
The guavas of Shehar Ganjam, the city founded by Tipu, are better  known as Kabul Benne. They are known for their high-quality pulp.
The Ganjam guavas have a distinct taste and flavour. This gives them an edge over other varieties, especially those with the pink pulp. The Ganjam variety has less seeds and its pulp is highly tasty. They are, therefore, much sought after by agro-processing industries.
Many of the guava plantations are anywhere between 15 acres to 20 acres in area.
Once on the decline, the Ganjam guavas seem to have made a comeback what with bumper harvests. The unique taste has led traders and wholesale merchants from Kerala and Tamil Nadu to come to Mysore and place orders for this fruit.
Guava is native to tropical America where it occurs wild. It was introduced in India in the seventeen century. The area under guava cultivation in India increased by 64 per cent  from 94,000 hectares  in 1991-92 to 155000 ha. in 2001-02 whereas the production increased by 55 per cent from 11 lakh tonnes to 17 lakh tonnes. Major guava producing states include Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh
Guava  is a good source of vitamin C, pectin, calcium and phosphorus. It is used for the preparation of processed products like jams, jellies and nectar.  Guava jelly puree is very popular for its attractive purplish-red colour, pleasant taste and aroma. Leaves of guava are used for curing diarrhoea and also for dyeing and tanning.
Once considered a forbidden fruit, as per the Philippian mythology, guava is an essential part of a weight loss diet. In fact it also has more Vitamin C than in an orange and makes it to the list of super fruits.
According to the Karnataka Directorate of Economics and Statistics, guava is grown in almost all the districts in more than 4,200 hectares. Kolar alone produces over 30 per cent of the annual 23,000-tonne harvest in the State.
Generally,  Bangalore gets its guavas from Nelamangala, Hoskote, Magadi, Yelahanka, Doddaballapur and Devanahalli. The Allahabad Safeda and Lucknow 49, also known as Sardar are the most widely grown varieties in Karnataka.
Today, the guavas of Ganjam are also sold in Bangalore, Kodagu, Chamarajanagar, Mandya, and Dakshina Kannada.
Located just two kilometrs from Srirangapatna and to the east of the historic island, Ganjam gets its name from the Persian ‘Ganj-i-am’ meaning granary of the world.
Guava which is called the Apple of the Tropics or poor man’s Apple, is the sixth most cultivated fruit in India. It is today commercially cultivated in more than 60 countries across the world.

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