Salient Features of jujube (Ber) Cultivation

Ber (Zizyphus mauritiana) is very common fruit in the warm subtropical regions of Pakistan. Ber is an indigenous and ancient fruit of Pakistan, India, China, and Malaysia region. It is regularly grown as border trees or windbreaks. The fruits are very much nutritious and rich source of vitamin C, A and B complex. It is very common and significant fruit of rural areas in Pakistan. Ber is commonly known as poor man’s apple due to its nutritional value. Owing to its wide cultivation, it is also called as poor man’s fruit.

                                  H. Kashif Ali*, Dr. Zaid Mustafa**, Mujahid Ali*
     (*College of Agriculture, UOS; **Horticultural Research Station, Nowshera)
 Ber trees are used for rearing lac insect, the leaves along with tender shoots are used as fodder, wood is used as fuel and for medicinal purposes. Ber fruit is usually eaten fresh. It can be used for the preparation of murabba, candy, and chutney. Squash or nectar can be prepared from its pulp. The fruits of wild varieties particularly Malah ber (Z. numularia) are dried in sun and are sold during offseason. The tree is recumbent and spreading in nature, branches are vine-like. Leaves are dark green and hairy on the underside. Leaves shed after crop harvesting or during summer. Flowers produced on the fresh growth in autumn. Fruit starts ripping in winter or early spring.
Interestingly among the fruit trees, ber cultivation needs perhaps the least inputs and care. It gives good production even without irrigation. The tree can, therefore give assured income even under marginal growing conditions and provides nutritious food at very low cost. The fruit is dried and is used as a dessert fruit. It can also be preserved as a candied fruit. The ber is a hardy fruit and grows well all over the country under varying climatic conditions and up to an elevation of 1000 meters above sea level. For its successful cultivation, it favors a hot and dry climate.
Ber plant can be grown on a variety of soil but grow well on the deep, well-drained soil, extreme drought-resistant plant, also tolerate waterlogged conditions, survive the temperature up to 45-500C and ber plant cannot tolerate severe frost in winter. The plant develops a very deep tap root system in a brief period of growth. There are some important varieties of ber like Umran No.13, Umran No.9, Karaka, Gola, Seb, Chhuhara, Mehrun, cv. Umran, Kernel Local, and Gohar.
The ber is commonly propagated by seeds during the earlier period, but the problem of this method is heterozygosity and variability in the progeny of seedling. Therefore, asexual propagation is recommended usually shield budding is used. 3-4 seeds are planted at a site, which germinates in 4-5 weeks. They are shield budded at the age of 19-21 months in situ. Ber plants start bearing after 3-4 years of planting. They have planted at the distance of 12-13 m apart in an orchard, if planted as a windbreak then distance is 8-10 m apart.
Monsoon season is the best season of ber planting. In Northern India, planting is done either in February-March or July-September. After the layout, pits of 60x60x60 cm are dug. About 100 g of 10 percent carbaryl or Aldrex dust is sprinkled on the bottom sides of pits to prevent termites. Pits are filled with topsoil mixed with 20 kg farmyard manure and 1 kg superphosphates. Treated seeds or bud grafts are planted in these pits at the onset of Monsoon. The area around the young plant is kept clean by weeding and hoeing. Under irrigated conditions, low growing vegetables can be grown as intercrops. Under rainfed conditions legume crops like moong, moth, cowpea can be grown as intercropping.
Ber trees would attain bushy, large unmanageable form but the production per unit area is quite low. To keep the plant in manageable shape and size, trees be trained properly during first 2-3 years to build a strong framework. By providing support with the bamboo stick to the new growth of sprout from either in situ or transplanted seedling, vertical growth is encouraged. Once the growth is about 1-1.5 meter, the terminal growth is pinched, allowing lower buds on the main stem to sprout and form main branches. Thus, plants are trained by pruning and kept in manageable shape, size with a well-developed framework.
Pruning is an essential operation in ber production as fruits are borne in the axil of leaves on the young shoots of the current season. Pruning is, therefore, done every year to induce the maximum number of new healthy shoots which bear excellent quality fruits.
The growth regulators like GA, NAA, CCC, and Ethephon were used. Gibberellic acid (10 ppm) and NAA (10 ppm) during fruit development and ethephon, one month before harvesting were sprayed. Application of NAA increased the yield of fruits with the cost-benefit ratio of 1:3:30.
Ber is a drought-resistant plant but irrigation during fruit development improves fruit quality and yield. Like other fruit trees, ber also requires regular application of manures and fertilizers for good yields. Application of 3-5 baskets of Farmyard manure, 250 g N per tree (split into 2 equal doses) and 250 g P2O5 per tree + 50 g K2O per tree (single dose) per year for the full-grown tree (5 years and thereafter) is recommended for better yield and quality of fruits.
Ber fruit fly is one of the important pests of ber, which is extensively distributed throughout India. The infested fruits turn brown, rot and smell offensively. The pest can be controlled by spraying 3 to 4 times with Carbaryl-50 WP 0.2% or Dimethoate-30 EC-0.03% commencing from the attainment of fruits of the pea size. Among the diseases, powdery mildew is very common on ber fruits. Small whitish spots appear on young fruits, which later enlarge and cover the entire fruit. The affected fruits either drop off or become corky, misshapen and under-developed. The disease can be controlled by dusting with sulfur @ 150 to 200 g /tree and subsequent 3 dustings at an interval of 15-20 days. Alternaria leaf spot and Cercospora leaf spot also appears in the form of grey spots on leaves. Both these diseases are effectively controlled by spraying dithane M-45 (0.25%) or foltart (0.1%) as soon as the disease appears. Subsequent 2 to 3 sprays can be given at an interval of 15 to 20 days depending upon the intensity of the disease.
The ber fruits are harvested in 4 or 5 pickings since all the fruits on the tree do not mature at one time. The fruit picking is done by hand using a ladder. The fruits should be harvested at the proper stage of maturity. The best index of the correct picking stage is the characteristic maturity color and softness of cultivar after the fruit has attained the full size.
Under dryland (when just depend on rainfall) conditions, on an average 60-80 kg fruits per tree per year can be harvested. Under irrigated situations yield will be 3-4 times higher. The under-ripe, over-ripe and damaged fruits are sorted out. The remaining healthy fruits are graded in two grades, large and small according to size. Fruits are packed in gunny bags, wooden boxes and in cardboard boxes.
There is need to enhance cultivation of ber. Now a day ber seedless varieties are becoming popular due to consumer preference. The government should act by starting a project for its quality seed production and its recommended management practices which have been ignored in the past. They should encourage its cultivation as an agro-forestry Agri-scientist should focus its breeding for its dwarfness and quality of fruit to remove its sour taste.

8 Pakistani companies, 25 delegates participate in ‘Fruit Logistica’ 2018

BERLIN (Germany): In “Fruit Logistica” exhibition held in Berlin (Germany) more than 30 buyers who participated in the exhibition has shown deep interest in buying Fruits & Vegetables from Pakistan and demonstrated keen desire in availing trade opportunities which have emerged as a result of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, says a Press release.
The exhibition “Fruit Logistica” provides most effective International platform for exports’ enhancement of Pakistan’s Horticulture Industry and inculcate awareness about most modern Research & Technological activities, Waheed Ahmed, the Patron-in-Chief & Vice President of FPCCI stated.
During this year eight Pakistani companies participated in the exhibition and an exclusive stall representing the Association (PFVA) was also installed while 25 delegates participated. The Ambassador of Pakistan, Johar Saleem inaugurated Pakistani Pavilion. According to Waheed, Ahmed, the European countries expressed sincere desire in purchasing Pakistan Mango, Russia to buy Potato while U.K, Holland, and Norway including Germany reflected keen interest to buy Pakistani dates.
Similarly buyers from Russia, Ukraine, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also expressed great interest to purchase Pakistani Kinnow. Keeping in view overwhelming responses received by Pakistani companies it’s anticipated to get export orders up to three million US dollars.
Waheed Ahmed said that the exhibition “Fruit Logistica” proved to be an effective international event for highlighting immense potential of Pakistani Horticulture sector and offered excellent opportunities for investment in this specific sector.
During the 3-days’ exhibition, Waheed Ahmed extended invitation to prominent technological companies to visit Pakistan and also apprised them of purposes & objectives of conducting a national conference in Pakistan in near future with collaboration of PFVA & FPCCI.
He further stated that with establishment of CPEC Projects and economic zones the investors around the Globe are focusing their attention on Pakistan and hence the foreign companies and Investors would also be invited next year in the proposed National Conference on Horticulture sector.
Waheed Ahmed expressed deep satisfaction and highly appreciated extensive efforts of Pakistani Embassy and commercial for making good arrangements and rendering assistance to Pakistani companies participated in this mega event. With close cooperation of Pakistani Embassy, Pakistani culture and traditional products prepared from Fruits & Vegetables would also be advertised so that this unique opportunity can be fully exploited for enhancement of exports.

Pakistan revises its kinnow export target downwards

KARACHI: Keeping in view various issues related to the export of kinnow (orange) to Russian and Iranian markets, this year’s export target has been revised downwards by All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association (PFVA).

During the current season, which started from December 1, the association has set an export target of 250,000 tons compared with last year’s exports of 280,000 tons. This means the country would be able to export just 12.5% of its annual kinnow production. This year’s total anticipated production is 2,000,000 tons.

“The decline in export can be attributed to the lack of interest on part of the government of Punjab, high cost of production, stiff competition and various trade barriers imposed by Iran, European countries and Russia,” a press release quoted PFVA former chairman Waheed Ahmed as saying.

The export target of 250,000 tons in the current season would largely depend upon favourable weather conditions and political stability in the country. Recent political noise due to Islamabad blockage has had an impact on trade activities.

Ahmed emphasised the need for immediate action to improve quality of kinnow otherwise the country will eventually lose part of its $200-million annual kinnow exports.

The kinnow industry has been experiencing numerous issues, which has led to consistent decline in its export since 2014-15. Pakistan was able to export 375,000 tons of kinnow in 2014-15.

For the last six years, kinnow has not been exported to Iran, a big market for Pakistan, due to reluctance in the issuance of import permit by the Iranian government.

The demand of Pakistani kinnow in the international markets is on a decline as well due to its poor appearance, too many seeds and infections due to Canker. In 2014, Pakistan had taken an initiative by placing a ‘self-imposed’ temporary embargo on export of kinnow to Europe and the UK and thus averted a likely ban on import by these countries.

The PFVA said that it has been drawing the government’s attention on the significance of research & development (R&D) for the last several years to improve quality of kinnow. But despite the fact that more than 90% area of cultivation of crops of kinnow is in Punjab, the government of Punjab has not been paying attention to this grave problem, Ahmed added.

Due to the production of small-sized kinnow in abundance, export to Russia has assumed special significance.

Recently, during the fifth inter-ministerial meeting between Pakistan and Russia, it was mutually agreed that greater access would be given to Pakistani agriculture produce and tariff and non-tariff barriers (NTBs) would be removed.

However, the concerned ministries of Pakistan would also be required to play an instrumental role for implementation of this agreement, stressed Ahmed.

The PFVA has demanded a freight subsidy of $2,500 per export container enabling exporters to encounter stiff competition from Egypt, Turkey and Morocco.

To date, 800 kinnow containers weighing 20,000 tons have been exported to Russia, Philippine, Sri-Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Mauritius, Bangladesh, Malaysia, the UAE etc.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2017. article citation in research papers

Agriculture information Bank ( is the youngest and fastest growing online agriculture information sharing website of Pakistan. Articles published on citated in different research papers, online articles and Wikipedia. Following three research papers citation articles.

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How to Farm or Garden When You Have No Land Whatsoever

In the City of Chicago, nestled in the completely gentrified little neighborhood of Bucktown, lives me in my rental apartment.  While it’s adorable here and there’s tons of trees, my immediate setting isn’t any greener than the skinny rectangular patches of Earth that line the streets, where thousands of dogs.

p.  It’s totally true.  I don’t have a garden of my own.  In fact, I’ve never had a garden of my own, in the traditional sense of the word.

So then, wait.  How have I learned everything I know about gardening?  And how do I post all my pictures of gardens I plant and food I harvest if I have no yard or land whatsoever?

(Please note that affiliate links are present in this post, which means if you click on a link and buy something I’ll get like 4 cents for it.  All product recommendations are genuine and my own).

I’ve taken some pretty big leaps throughout my food growing journey.  A forest flower in a former life, I started really wanting a vegetable garden but not having a clue how to start one.  So I offered up my free time to volunteer on urban farms in Detroit where I planted seeds and trees for the first time.  That evolved into landing a job working on several non-profit urban farms, and that was when I felt my life bloom technicolor rainbowof possibility.  A season later, I relocated to Chicago to work with an edible landscaping company where I designed the layouts of and helped grow over 100 backyard gardens and taught dozens of families what I knew about growing food.  I even got to teach classrooms of children in school gardens!  That company fired me last year (it happens), but it was perhaps the biggest blessing of all because I am still gardening – but on my own terms.  And now I have this blog where I get to share everything I’ve learned with anyone who cares.  It’s all so incredible to me.


Long story short, I have a lot of experience growing food – because I put myself in the way of many opportunities.  I chose urban farming and immersed myself in it.  And I continue to make new, creative food growing opportunities for myself despite not even having a garden of my own!  This all could not be more true, I swear.

So, what do you do when all you want is to grow a garden but there’s nowhere to do it?  

You get creative.  You step out of your comfort zone.  You talk to other people.  You make new friends.  I never said this wouldn’t be scary.  Take my more articulate advice below.

Organic Gardening – Top Ten Tips

We’ve put together 10 of our favorite organic gardening tips to help you grow a healthier, more productive crop. Enjoy!

1. If you can not use finished compost for a while cover the pile with a tarp to avoid leaching the nutrients out of the compost.

2. Companion planting is an excellent way to improve your garden. Some plants replenish nutrients lost by another one, and some combinations effectively keep pests away.

3. Dry your herbs at the end of the summer by tying sprigs together to form small bunches. Tie them together with a rubber band and hang, tips down, in a dry place out of the sun. Keep the bunches small to ensure even circulation. Store dry in labeled canning jars, either whole or crumbled. Freezing is also a good way to preserve herbs.

4. Water in the morning to help avoid powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that are often spread by high humidity.

5. The longer the growing season the more compost is needed in the soil. A longer growing season requires more nutrients and organic matter in the soil.

6. Attract ladybugs to your garden with nectar-producing plants such as parsley, dill and fennel.

7. Coffee grounds make excellent mulch around acid-loving plants.

8. In general, thinner leaved plants need more water to stay alive, thicker leaved plants need less.

9. Make compost tea by mixing equal parts compost and water and let it sit. Pour this liquid directly onto the soil around healthy, growing plants. Dilute this to 4 parts water to 1 part compost for use on smaller seedlings. Any compost that has not gone into solution can be used to make more tea or used in your garden.

10. New beds require plenty of compost, soil amendments and double digging for that extra kick.


Does Stevia Plant Have Side Effects?

Stevia is the common name for extracts from the plant Stevia rebaudiana. In the U.S., a purified component form of the plant — called rebaudioside A (rebiana) — is “generally recognized as safe” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and may be used as an artificial sweetener in foods and beverages.

Refined stevia preparations (Pure Via, Truvia, others) are considered non-nutritive sweeteners — they have virtually no calories — and so may appeal to people trying to lose weight. But there’s no evidence that they offer an advantage for weight loss over other artificial sweeteners. In addition, these highly refined stevia extracts may cause mild side effects, such as nausea or a feeling of fullness.

The FDA hasn’t approved whole-leaf stevia or crude stevia extracts for use as food additives because of concerns about possible health effects. In particular, the FDA has concerns about the effects of whole-leaf or crude stevia on blood sugar control, the kidneys, and the cardiovascular and reproductive systems.

Remember that while sugar substitutes, such as refined stevia preparations, may help with weight management, they aren’t a magic bullet and should be used only in moderation. If you eat too many sugar-free foods, you can still gain weight if they have other ingredients that contain calories.


Health Benefits Of Magnesium

Health benefits of magnesium include prevention of constipation, eclamptic seizures, and asthma. It keeps your nerves, muscles, and bones healthy. It also helps in protein synthesis and cellular metabolism. Magnesium is vital for sustaining a normal heartbeat and is used by doctors to treat irregularities in the heart rhythm.

Other health benefits include its positive impact on reducing osteoporosis, and maintenance of sugar level, as well as its favourable effects on diabetes, back pain, and various psychiatric disorders.

Health Benefits Of Magnesium

Magnesium is needed to keep muscle and nerve functions normal and the heart beating rhythmically. It also helps to support a healthy immune system and keeps bones strong. It is important in terms of regulating blood sugar levels, thereby promoting normal blood pressure. It also supports energy metabolism, protein synthesis and treats cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

Relieves Constipation

Magnesium provides quick relief from constipation, and a high dose of its water-soluble supplements is known to bring relief to even the most severe constipated state. The laxative property of this vitamin relaxes the intestinal muscles, thereby helping to establish a smoother rhythm while passing bowels normally. It also has another property of absorbing water, which, in turn, softens the stool and helps it to pass easily.

Foreign firms charge exorbitant price for seeds

LAHORE – Multinational companies involved in Pakistan’s seed business sell their products to farmers at much higher rates as compared to other countries of the region especially India.Seed Association of Pakistan (SAP) spokesman Shafiqur Rehman claimed this during an interaction with Agriculture Journalists Association (AJA) at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Friday.

The reason behind high price of multinational companies’ seed, according to the SAP leader, was the failure of federal and provincial governments to develop any price formula.He said that if price formula was formed then his organization would sell locally developed seed of different major crops to farmers at more low rates than their present prices.”We are compelled to sell seeds in market keeping in view the prices of multinational companies and we have to do it for the satisfaction of the farmers.

If a multinational company sells a maize seed at price of Rs9,000 per bag then we can’t offer the same at half price although we can afford it,” he said.Shafiq was the view that the growers opted to pick the costly seed to avoid any kind of risk and psychological issues. So, he added, the local companies fix the seed prices keeping in mind their foreign competitors.

He also claimed the local seed companies outperformed their foreign competitors in research and development especially in production of high yielding corn varieties.”The local scientists of national companies associated with SAP emerged victorious by topping the National Uniform Yield Trials (NUYT) conducted by National Agriculture Research Council (NARC) for the last two years,” he said, adding the trials were conducted in an impartial manner on ten different sites including lands of public sector research institutions, private local and multinational seed companies.

He said some of these multinational seed companies were world leaders in maize seed research and development. The results were announced recently, he added.Sharing details of national seed competition, he said, three corn hybrids namely SB-9663, SB-9617 & SB-9618 got top three positions in competition of Yellow Maize Hybrids in Spring 2017.

The highest production recorded by these locally produced seeds was as high as 10.265 tons per hectare and this was more than double of the present average corn production in the country, he said.Similarly, Shafiq said, another hybrid seed variety namely CS-240 produced top yield and got first position in NUYT competition of Yellow and White Maize Hybrids in Spring 2016, producing average production of 9.905 tons per hectare.The spokesman was of the view that these promising results show that local competitive genetic material (germplasm) is sufficiently available in the country to produce high-quality hybrid corn seeds for the spring season.

Presently, we are importing these hybrid corn seeds from various countries, spending billions of rupees foreign exchange, he explained. Shafiq elaborated that locally produced hybrid seed was already acclimatized to local conditions as well as have vigour to resist against pest and disease attacks. Especially, unlike foreign competing seed varieties, locally produced corn hybrids are capable of tolerating high temperatures, he said and adding such characteristics of local hybrid seeds have brightened the prospects of multiplying the maize production in the country.

This seed is available to the farmers at affordable prices, he maintained.He proudly said that out of about 200 members, many SAP companies are conducting basic seed research for developing genetic material. “We have been blessed with huge genetic material for breeding of hybrid seed in addition to running processing units and a network of state of the art seed testing labs.”Highlighting the importance of corn, Shafiq said, like wheat and rice, corn is a staple diet in much of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir and some other rural belts.

In addition to human use, 75 per cent of corn use has been for fodder and feed of livestock and poultry. It includes green fodder, silage, poultry and animal feed.As many as 20 per cent of the corn produce is used by the food processing industry for manufacturing cereals, refined flour, custards etc while remaining five per cent is used as seed and other purposes.  Corn use has vast potential to increase manifold as its production is expected to increase significantly in years to come, he viewed.Given the latest trends, he opined, use of corn grain and plants can be increased manifold by promoting use of ethanol and manufacturing of other products. In this connection, the government should announce incentive for these value additions.

Talking about corn or maize crop, he said, it is the third most important and the highest yielding cereal crop of the country after wheat and rice.”Maize is grown on an area of 1.334 million hectares with annual production of 6.130 million tons, showing average grain yield 4.595 tons/ha. Punjab is major maize producing province contributing 65 percent in area and 85 percent in production. Punjab’s average yield stands at a higher side with 6.032 tons per hectare output. At national level, corn contributes 2.7 percent to the value added in agriculture & 0.5percent to GDP of the country, he added.Shafiq said Pakistan was poised to become self-sufficient in production of corn hybrid seeds and this was a major development towards achieving the goal of food security of the country.

Article Written by: Iftikhar Alam