Passion fruit, a high value foreign exchange earning fruit crop rich in appreciable quantities of vitamin A, B, C with medicinal value is mostly grown at an altitude of 800-1500 m above mean sea level. The cultivation of passion fruit is mostly restricted to few of the North Eastern states and hilly regions of South India. It has a very good scope of commercial cultivation in the Darjeeling Himalayan Regions of West Bengal particularly Kalimpong and Kurseong subdivisions.

This will help the small farmers to improve their economic condition that ultimately leads to overall prosperity of this region. Darjeeling Krishi Vigyan Kendra will provide the necessary training in technical aspects of passion fruit cultivation by conducting trials at their experimental fields as well as adopted villages.

Purple passion fruitPassion fruit, a native of Brazil is a high value nutritious foreign exchange earning fruit crop having high medicinal importance. Of about 500 species of Passiflora in the family Passifloraceae, only one species i.e. Passiflora edulis Sims, has the exclusive designation of passion fruit, preferably seen growing at an altitude of 800-1500 m above sea level. Within this species, there are two distinct forms, the standard yellow (Passiflora edulis f. Flavicarpa Deg.) and the purple (Passiflora edulis f. edulis). It is cultivated in several countries. In India its cultivation is restricted to only North Eastern states and hilly regions of South India.

Passion fruit is a shallow rooted, vigorous, perennial, climbing by means of tendrils, woody vine that produces an edible round or ovoid fruit and has a tough, smooth, waxy dark purple hued rind with faint, fine white specks. Inside, the fruit is more or less filled with an aromatic mass of double-walled, membranous sacs containing orange coloured pulpy juice and as many as 250 small, hard, dark brown to black pitted seeds.

Passion fruit is a high value and potentially a foreign exchange earning crop. The standard yellow (Passiflora edulis f. flavicarpa Deg.) and the purple (Passiflora edulis f. edulis), differs in pH and starch content (pH 2.8 and 0.06% starch in yellow and pH 4.2 and 0.74% starch in purple), with comparatively higher amylose content in former (8.7%) than latter type (5.8%). In purple passion fruit, cool temperatures are favourable for flower initiation and fruit set (23-18°C), while relatively high temperatures seem necessary for promoting juice production (23-33°C) and improvement in quality. 

Extent of Cultivation and production

In India it is mainly grown in the Nilgiris, Wynad, Kodaikanal, Shevroys, Coorg and Malabar in the south and in various parts of northern India mainly in Himachal Pradesh and North Eastern states like Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya.

The total global supply of passion fruit is estimated at 8.52 lakh tons, with major producing countries comprising of Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Australia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Columbia. Over 95% of the production is the yellow form for juice extraction, while purple contributes predominantly for fresh fruit trade. In India it has an area and production of 9.11 thousand ha and 45.82 thousand tons respectively. The average productivity comes to 5.02 tons/ha that is many fold low to 30-35 tons/ha harvested in the countries like Brazil, Australia, Colombia etc. using of course high planting density (2.0 m x 1.25 m within the row and between the rows, respectively, with a plating density of 4000 plants/ha). Poor production management shared predominantly in terms of nutrient management holds the key factor, responsible for such a colossal yield difference. Passion fruit is a highly nutrient responsive perennial crop, grows mostly as vine with a shallow root system (root density remaining confined to top 20 cm soil depth).

Medicinal Value

The fruit can be grown to eat or for its juice, which is often added to other fruit juices to enhance aroma. The fruit is eaten alone or in fruit salads, sherbets, ice cream, jams, cool drinks and as concentrates. It is also popular for its medicinal value. The leaves of many of the Passiflora species have been used for centuries by indigenous tribes of Latin America as a sedative or calming tonic. The fruit has been used by the Brazilian tribes as a heart tonic and medicine, and as a favorite drink called maracujagrande that is frequently used to treat asthma, whooping cough, bronchitis and other tough coughs. Passion fruit still occupies an important place in South American traditional medicine, and in Peruvian traditional medicine the juice is used for urinary infections and as a mild diuretic. In Madeira, the juice of passion fruit is given as a digestive stimulant and treatment of gastric cancer.

Nutritional Value

Passion fruit is a rich source of Vitamin A and C, and minerals. The concentration of sodium compared to other fruits is high. Carotene content is high without any detectable amount of bitter compounds like hesperidin, naringin and limolin. The rind of passion fruit contains 5-6% protein, while seeds yield as high as 23% oil, which is at par with oilseed crop like sunflower and soybean.

Table 1 Nutritive value of Passion fruit juice

Sl. No.

Parameters

Range

1.

Relative density (20°/20° C)

1.05-1.07

2.

°Brix

12.0-18.0

3.

Total soluble solids (g/litre)

125.8-193.5

4.

Fibre (g/100 g edible portion)

4.4-15.9

5.

Starch (g/100 g edible portion)

1.0-3.7

6.

Protein (g/100 g edible portion)

0.6-2.8

7.

Vitamin A (mg/100 g edible portion)

650-684

8.

Vitamin B2 (mg/100 g edible portion)

0.1-0.2

9.

Vitamin C (mg/100 g edible portion)

20-25

10.

Titrable acids as tartaric acid (g/litre)

30-55

11.

Citric acid (g/litre)

25-50

12.

Iron (mg/litre)

25-30

13.

Zinc (mg/litre)

5-10

14.

Proline (mg/litre)

150-1500

15.

Aspartic acid (mmol/litre)

3-12

16.

Alanine (mmol/litre)

1.0-4.5

17.

γ-aminobutyric acid (mmol/litre)

1.5-4.0

18.

Histidine (mmol/litre)

0.1-0.4

19.

β-carotene(mg/litre)

7-28

20.

Sodium (mg/100g)

6.0

 Propagation

Passion fruit can be propagated through seeds as well as cuttings and grafting. For seed multiplication good quality ripe fruits should be collected, seeds are extracted and allowed for fermentation for 3 to 4 days. Then seeds are washed with water before drying under shade. Then in nursery beds seeds should be sown in a soil depth of 1-2 cm preferably under shade. Generally passion fruit seeds are germinated in 14-21 days. Seedlings should be transplanted in polythene bags at 2-3 leaves stage and finally 3-4 months old seedlings are transferred to field. For multiplication through cuttings generally matured 30-35 cm long cuttings with 2-3 internodes of pencil thickness should be planted in nursery beds/polythene bags. Rooting starts after about 30 days and after three months, the sprouted cuttings can be transplanted to the main field. Rooting may be accelerated by treatment of cuttings with IBA like rootone/rootex/seradix B. Grafting can be done using both stock and scion of 45-60 cm tall with stem diameter of pencil thickness grafted either a cleft graft, whip graft or side wedge graft. Generally Plants developed from cuttings should always be preferred over seedlings for planting because of the true to the type nature of plants obtained from cuttings, which comes into bearing even after one year. For good plant stand monsoon is the best time for planting the rooted cuttings in the fields. Passion fruit seedlings/cuttings are planted at spacing of 3-5 m x 2 m though it varies with variety and environmental conditions.

Nutrient Management

Passion fruit is a shallow rooted crop and needs adequate fertilization for luxuriant growth and good fruit set. Proper nutrient management is essential for obtaining a good harvest. In general, fertilizer dose (g/vine/year) of 100 N, 50 P2O5, 100 K2O is recommended in 2 splits in the months of February-March and July-August along with 10 kg farmyard manure at the time of transplanting evenly spread in a circle of 50-45 cm radius about the stem having sufficient moisture in soil at the time of fertilizer application to ensure better use efficiency. Passion fruit responds significantly to both irrigation and fertilization if combined together through fertigation. On an average, passion fruit requires irrigation of40-50 m3/ha/day (12-15 litres/vine/day) in summer and 20-25 m3/ha/day (6-8litres/vine/day) in winter. Drip irrigation in passion fruit like any other perennial crop of tropical/subtropical climate is very useful. In a study on response of passion fruit to Potassium fertigation showed highest commercial production of yellow passion fruit with the application of 450-675 g K2O/vine/year and irrigation water levels of 1528.2-2117.3 liters/vine/year on sandy loam soil.                                   

Other Management Practices

For getting the best crop of passion fruits trellising is necessary practice. It provides the maximum possible area for plant growth and formation of flower buds. The cost of trellis material is the initial expense in establishing new plantations. Wooden poles, angle iron bars are used in its construction. Poles should be inserted 0.6 m in to the ground with about 2 m above soil level at a spacing of 3 m. Steel wire (3.25 mm in diameter) is drawn tight to form the top wire, about 10 cm below the upper tip of the poles. A second wire is strung about 60 cm below the top wire and third about 60 cm below the second wire. This will help to support the vine under strong winds. The leader vine of each plant should be tied loosely at regular intervals up the stake until it reaches the wire. Flower and fruit development takes place only on the current season’s growth; hence all vine growth older than one year is unfruitful. Pruning is normally carried out during July- August. Lateral shoots, which have completed their fruiting, are cut back to 30 cm from the main leader.

Fruit fly, mealy bugs and aphids are major insects of Passion fruits. Malathion 50 EC @ 2ml/litre of water is sprayed to control the insects. Major diseases are brown spot, root rot and wilt. To control the diseases, spraying of Dithane M-45 @ 2-5 g /litre of water is practiced. To keep root rot under control, proper drainage of excess water is necessary.

Harvesting and Processing

The vine starts yielding fruits about 9 months to one year after planting, depending on the planting season. Stage of harvest depends on the market destination, and/or the variety being cultivated for juice production, thus should be harvested when fruits are fully ripen. The fruits are ready for harvesting when their skin colour becomes dark. To avoid shrivelling, fruits should be picked early in the morning and kept as cool as possible during handling and allowed to dry before packing.

Scope of commercial cultivation of passion fruit in Darjeeling district

Darjeeling district comes under Hill zone of West Bengal. It comprises of four subdivisions namely Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Siliguri. Except Siliguri other three subdivisions are hilly areas situated at higher altitudes. This district is famous for tea cultivation. Tea is mainly grown at Darjeeling sadar subdivision and to some extent at Kurseong subdivision. Kalimpong subdivision has a tremendous potential for passion fruit cultivation. Here farmers mainly grow rice, maize, potato, mustard, large cardamom, vegetables etc. Soil is developed with distinct horizons and very fertile with high organic carbon content (varies between 1.5 to 2.0%) and suitable for growing passion fruit. It can be popularized among the farmers. There is an immense potentiality of boosting passion fruit cultivation in Kalimpong subdivision as well as other hilly areas of Darjeeling district based on the following strength of the region

  1. The region has the desired climate for growing passion fruit very successfully.
  2. There is a great possibility of expanding its cultivation to the low and mid hill region for commercial scale production as there is still large tract of uncultivated land.
  3. Passion fruit and its different parts of plant having numerous medicinal properties have great scope for domestic and export market as Siliguri airport is near.
  4. Passion fruit industry can bring about a much needed employment opportunity in the region with not only its cultivation but also with setting up of more processing and semi- processing units in the region.
  5. It is near to Siliguri, the capital of North Bengal and now many food processing industries such as pineapple are flourishing and Govt. of West Bengal has established Food Park here.
  6. At Kalimpong, Darjeeling KVK is situated and can help the farmers technically by organizing training and conducting trials at their experimental fields as well as adopted villages.

Summary

Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis), a native of Brazil with medicinal importance mainly grows in high altitude areas and is cultivated in hilly regions of India. It is a perennial climber that yields edible round or ovoid fruits filled with aromatic juice rich in vitamins. Estimated global supply of passion fruit is 8.52 lakh tons of which over 95% is yellow type for juice extraction, while purple contributes predominantly for fresh fruit trade. The average productivity in India is 5.02 tons/ha. Fruits are eaten as such or in fruit salads, sherbats, ice cream, jams, cool drinks and as concentrates. It is propagated through seeds as well as cuttings and grafting. Vines start yielding from 9 month to one year. There is tremendous scope of its commercial cultivation in Darjeeling Hills. This fruit could be a good source of earning for small and marginal farmers of Darjeeling Hills and adjoining state of Sikkim.


Authors:

Ashim Datta*1, Nirmalendu Basak2, Irenaeus TKS3, Tapas Kumar Pandit4, Samuel Rai4

1,2Division of Soil and Crop Management, CSSRI, Karnal- 132 001, (Haryana)

3Department of Fruits and Orchard Management, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Mohanpur-741 252 (West Bengal)

4Darjeeling Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Kalimpong-741 252 (West Bengal)

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