Monkfruit is known for its sweetness and is a non-caloric natural sweetener, making it ideal for diabetics. Now, in a first, scientists of CSIR’s Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), Palampur, have introduced the cultivation of monkfruit in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh.
IHBT director Sanjay Kumar said monkfruit cultivation was initiated on a trial basis by planting 50 seedlings in farmer Manav Khullar’s fields at Raison in Naggar tehsil of Kullu on Monday. If successful, the fruit will be grown commercially.
Monkfruit (Siraitia grosvenorii) was originally grown only in China and known as luohan guo. It’s a small, green melon named after the monks who cultivated it. The fruit is known the world over for its sweetness and is used as a non-caloric natural sweetener. Despite its demand, this crop was only cultivated in China till recently.
Principal scientist Probir Kumar Pal and his team developed the technology for generating quality planting material, its basic agronomic cultivation practices, fruiting technique and post-harvest management. At present, monkfruit is being cultivated at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-run IHBT with good quality fruits under farm conditions. “The plant grows well in mountainous areas with an annual mean temperature of 16 to 20°C and humid conditions. Himachal Pradesh is a suitable for its large-scale cultivation,” Kumar told hindustantimes.com.