New fruit crops for desert regions
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CTA. 1990. New fruit crops for desert regions . Spore 30. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45407
By searching deserts around the world, Israeli scientists have found six fruit and nut trees that show promise as orchard crops for arid regions. The project began in 1984 and initially yielded 27 potential trees, but these have been narrowed down...
By searching deserts around the world, Israeli scientists have found six fruit and nut trees that show promise as orchard crops for arid regions. The project began in 1984 and initially yielded 27 potential trees, but these have been narrowed down to Yehib (Cordeauxia edulis), Ber (Ziziphus mauritiana), Pitahaya Agria (Stenocereus gummosus), Mongongo nuts (Ricinodendron rautaneii), White Sapote (Casimiroa edulis) and Marula (Sclerocarya birrea). Marula grows in northern South Africa and Botswana where the wild fruits are an important source of vitamin C. The flesh of the fruit is juicy and aromatic and it is eaten fresh or processed. Inside is a very tasty, small nut. White Sapote comes from Central America where it is already grown in home gardens. The fruits have a creamy white, sweet flesh which has a green-yellow skin. Mongongo nuts grow on sandy soils between latitudes 15 and 21 degrees in southern Africa, including the Kalahari Desert. The fruit has a thin, green, edible flesh covering a hard walled stone. Inside the stone is a very pleasant kernel which is particularily rich in fats and protein. Scientists from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have been growing the fruit trees on several sites m Israel where tolerance to a range of soils, temperatures and salinity are being assessed. Germination has been difficult to achieve as most of these plants have been adapted to hostile desert conditions. Generally, the trees have seeds with low germination rates, which staggers germination over several years and so increases their chances of germinating in favourable conditions. Transplanting has been another problem as the trees develop long tap roots very quickly. However, Professor Yosef Mizrahi and his team feel that with more time and research these fruit trees may provide arid land farmers with lucrative and sustainable fruit crops. Professor Yosef Mizrahi The Institute for Applied Research Ben-Gurion University of the Negev PO Box 1025 Beer-Sheva ISRAEL