Article originally written by Kalyani Bhandari B.Sc Ag (TU)
Avocado’s fruit shell looks crocodilian, pulp is buttery and pits resemble the shape of pear. This is avocado; Persia americana, one of the richest fruit either in the context of nutrition or in use. Avocado pear, aligator pear, midshepman’s butter, vegetable marrow is some other name being called for it. Fruit looks somehow oval and can be of different colours i.e. green, yellow green, reddhish brown or almost black depending upon the variety .It has creamy texture with nutty flavour.
This is the flowering plant belonging to lauraceae family. They are believed to be originated from Mexico and South America.
Barks, leaves, seeds, oil of this plant are used for various purpose white fruit is considered to be healthy diets and highly nutritive.
USES OF VARIOUS PARTS
Simply it is used as food. Usually overripe avocado are preferred over hard and unripe avocado. As it is a climacteric fruit, it can be ripening after harvest too. It is most nutritious of all fruits. It is very high in caloriei.e.200Kcal for 100g,rich in vitamini.e.2.3mg vitamin-E per 100g and enriched with vitaminB1(thiamine), vitaminB2(riboflavin), B3, B6, C, D, E and minerals such as sodium, calcium, potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorous, cupper, magnesium etc and is highly proteinous.
Instead of butter, its fleshy pulp can be used on bread. They are considered as good salad and are popularly used in ice-creams and milkshake.
From medicinal point of view, it is one of the beneficial fruit. Its pulp can be used for skin care. Mashed pulp when applied gently in skin cure sun burn and applying on hair scalp cure dryness and improve hair growth. Similarly iron is present in sufficient amount so, it can be cure to iron deficiency, anemia and also useful for pregnant and menstruating women.
Alpha carotene is also present in it which is good antioxidant and protects us against harmful LDL (low density lipid) cholesterol and hence reduces risks of atherosclerosis and coronary diseases. Due to its alkaline nature, its consumption maintains optimal blood sugar level and highly beneficial for the people suffering from gastritis and ulcer. Daily consumption of 1 to ½ avocado fruit decreases cholesterol level remarkably.
Bark is harvested after pruning young branches. They are mainly used in decoction and it cures dysentery and diarrhoea.
Leaves are mainly collected during growing season and dried for later use. They are popular for tea and also used in infusion and extracts. Tea made from leaves has been used to treat diarrhoea, bloating, cough, gout etc. It removes uric acid from body and cleans liver too. It also reduces high blood pressure.
Seeds are protected inside pit. These pits are used to plant avocado. Seeds are also medicine of diarrhoea and dysentery. Beside this, they have good antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Oil is extracted from seeds. They consist of 20-30% saturated fatty acid. They are primarily used in cosmetics products and have long self-life i.e. around 2-5 years. Its application on skin treats thickening of skin and makes them soft. Gum infection can also be cured when applied on infected part. It is really good for dry, aged and sun damaged skin and is also used to cure dermatitis.
As every good thing hides bad side, there are some side effects and hazards of avocado use. They can cause allergic reaction in sensitive people. Similarly, high nutritional content can cause weight gain if consumed regularly in high amount. Consumption of leaves and bark by pregnant woman may cause abortion and abnormal growth of baby’s body but fruit doesn’t cause such effect.
It’s obviously the topic of curiosity that how this plant is cultivated. Due to dichogamy nature (ripening of stamen and pistil of flower at different time), they are hardly self-pollinated and hence has longer juvenile period. Mainly they are planted from pit and propagated by grafting. Plant cultivated from pit won’t bear fruit until at least 10years old and that from nursery can bear in four years.
They are sun loving plant and prefer warm climate. They are native to tropical and subtropical region and if grown commercially in these areas, high yield can be obtained.
AVOCADO TREE IN A JAR ?
It’s quite interesting to grow avocado from pit in a jar or any water holding container. Once you ate avocado pulp, the remaining inner part is pit. Wash that pit and press 3-4 toothpicks around and suspend the pit in the rim of jar full of water so, the broad bottom of pit is submersed in water. Put the jar in warm place but avoid direct sunlight. After that sprouting will occur within 2-6 week and stem will emerge out. If there is no sprouting even in 8 week, there might be certain defect and you have to try on new pit. As the stem grows and becomes 6-7 inch, head it back about half and when roots become thick, leaves starts arising, transfer the plant in soil in a pot leaving half of the seed exposed to outer environment.
Care should be given to transplanted plant. Frequent watering should be done. Cold and shady place isn’t favoured. Soil should be well drained and regular pruning should be given to stem for bushy look. It can somehow look like bonsai.
AVAILABILITY AND POSSIBILITY IN NEPAL
Besides being this much beneficial, it is still new fruit farming concept in Nepal and only few farmers are known about it. They are available in certain supermarkets like Bhatbhateni and ‘kisan ko poko’ i.e. a grocery market of agriculture product in Kathmandu, is doing some how good supply. But people of other places are unknown about this. Since it is quite expensive it is less affordable to middle class nepalese society.
Recently Dhankuta is declared as ‘avocado capital’. According to the data of 2018AD, 80 tonnes of avocado has been produced annually in dhankuta. There are nearly 3800 fruit bearing trees and has motive to encourage people to plant 100000 avocado saplings.
Due to climate variation, there is great possibility of avocado cultivation in Nepal. Hence avocado cultivation in Nepal can be summed up in a phrase; ‘PLANT BEST, EAT BEST AND EARN BEST.’