Aonla or amla is an important minor fruit crop. In addition, the fruits have huge commercial significance. The scientific name of Aonla is Embelica Officinalis. And it belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae. The crop is quite hardy, prolific bearer and highly remunerative even without much care. The fruit is capsular (drupaceous) with a fleshy exocarp. In India, it is known as the Indian gooseberry. The Sanskrit name is Amlaki. The major amla producing states are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Aravali ranges in Haryana and Kandi area in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
In this article, you will find detail information about how to start a commercial aonla cultivation business. However, like every farming business, aonla cultivation requires substantial land. In addition, you will need to have a proper financial and marketing planning.
Economic Importance Of Aonla Cultivation
The fruit is a good source of vitamin C. In addition, the fruit has good medicinal value. It has acrid, cooling, diuretic and laxative properties. Dried fruits are useful in haemorrhages, diarrhea, dysentery, anaemia, jaundice, dyspepsia and cough. Furthermore, the popular use of this fruit is as indigenous medicines (Ayurvedic system) viz. trifla and chavanprash. In addition, the fruits are essential items for preserve (murabba), pickles, candy, jelly, and jam. Besides fruits, you can find the various usage of leaves, bark and even seeds. Also, the fruits are essential items for preparing hair wash and hair oil. Therefore the demand for amla fruits has now outgrown its production. So amla cultivation is becoming very profitable.
Health Benefits Of Aonla
- First of all, the fruit is a rich source of vitamin C. Amla juice contains nearly twenty times as much vitamin C as orange juice.
- The fresh fruit contains more than 80% water, protein, minerals, carbohydrates, and fiber.
- Ayurved says, that regular use of amlaki can help people live more than 100 years a healthy life.
- Furthermore, it contains many vitamins and minerals like Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, Carotene and Vitamin B Complex.
- Also, it is a powerful antioxidant agent.
- Aonla is helpful in treating skin diseases. In addition, it helps to clear pimples and acne.
- Amla enriches the hair growth and hair pigmentation. It strengthens roots of the hair and maintains colour.
- Finally, it increases the production of red blood cells. Thus it helps to cure anemia.
Thing To Consider In Commercial Aonla Cultivation
- In commercial cultivation, the most important aspect is cost calculation and profitability. So you must have a financial analysis before starting the plantation.
- You must have a sufficient area for the cultivation.
- Choose the variety carefully. Because choosing the right variety is hugely important.
- in addition, check what are the equipment you will need to have. Arrange them either by purchase or on rent.
- Finally. you must have the right arrangement of plant protection system for pest and disease attacks.
Best Varieties For Aonla Cultivation
Some of the popular Indian varieties are Banarasi, Chakaiya, Krishna, Kanchan, Anand-1 and Anand-2.
Banarasi: Erect, spreading, medium to tall tree, the shy and slightly alternate bearer. Fruit is roundish weighing about 50 gm, whitish green, slightly fibrous, scanty to medium juicy, seed to pulp ratio is 1.21.
Francis: Erect and tall tree, good and, the regular bearer, Branches have the drooping habit. Large fruited weighing about 63 gms, oval roundish, light green, slightly fibrous, moderately juicy, seed to pulp ratio 1.21.
Chakaiya: Tree has a spreading habit, medium height, prolific and regular bearing tree. It has 4.03 female flowers per branchlet. Medium size fruit flattened at base and round apex, greenish colour and fibrous. Seed to pulp ratio is 1.17.
Krishna (NA 4): Chance seedling of Banarsi. Bears moderately. Fruit medium to large in size, flattened, conical angular, basin papillate in shape, skin very smooth, yellowish in colour with red blush, flesh fibreless, hard and semi-transparent.
Kanchan (NA – 5): Chance seedling of Chakaya. The tree has spread habit, bears profusely. Fruits small to medium flattened oblong, Skin smooth, yellowish in colour, ideally suitable for preparation of pickles.
Agro Climatic Condition For Aonla Cultivation
Aonla is a sub-tropical crop and it prefers dry sub-tropical climate. Heavy frost during the winter season is not suitable for its cultivation. This is a fruit of sub – tropical region but its cultivation in a tropical climate is quite successful. The tree is not much affected either by hot wind or frost. The mature trees can tolerate freezing temperature as well as a temperature as high as 460 C. Soon after the fruit set in spring, the fruits remain dormant through summer without any growth, makes it highly suitable fruit crop for arid region.
Suitable Soil Condition For Aonla Cultivation
Slightly acidic to saline/sodic soil is suitable for cultivation. Aonla is not very exacting in its soil requirement and grows well in sandy loam to clay soils in India. It has a great tolerance to salinity and sodicity and cultivated in pH range of 6.0 to 8.0 very successful. However, you will get a high-yield production in deep and fertile soils.
Commercial Aonla Cultivation Basic Steps
The beginning of the monsoon is the best time for plantation. However, with proper irrigation facility you can start planting is spring also. Prior to plantings, you must deeply plough, harrow and level the field appropriately. Make the pits size 13 m in summer. And keep the pits open for about a fortnight. Then fill the each pit with 10-15kg FYM mix with surface soil. After the first shower,You can plant the plants in the center of these pits.
Training & Pruning
The branches of Aonla trees often break off carrying the heavy crop. You must train the plants to modified leader system. In addition, you must develop the framework by encouraging the growth of 4 to 6 well-spaced branches all around the trunk. You can do the pruning of the bearing plants after the termination of the crop each year.
Aonla trees are hardy and stand very well against drought.Therefore, hardly any irrigation is practiced. However, the young plants require watering during summer, months at fortnightly intervals till they have fully established.
Regular orcharding of Aonla is a rare phenomenon, therefore, nutritionist hardly practiced. However, you can get the beneficial effect of nitrogen, phosphorus potash, zinc, copper, manganese, and boron. Nitrogen increases the vegetative growth and female flowers, while P205 increases sex ratio, initial set, fruit retention and yield, TSS and vitamin C content of the fruit.
Aonla tree is quite fast growing type. However, in initial 3 to 4 years you can get the sufficient space available. And you can take the advantages of raising intercrops. However, rainy season is the perfect time for intercropping. And you can choose fruits or vegetable crops provided irrigation facilities are available.
Harvesting & Yield In Commercial Aonla Cultivation
A vegetatively propagated tree starts fruiting commercial crop after 6 – 8 years of planting, while seedling trees may take 10 to 12 years to begin bearing. However, under good management, you can get the productive life of trees about 50 to 60 years. Generally, Aonla fruits are ready for harvest in November / December. You can judge their maturity either by the change of seed colour from creamy white to black or by the development of translucence exocarp. The mature fruits are hard and unyielding to the touch and so are well suited for bulk harvesting as well as distant transportation and marketing. For getting an attractive price, fruits after harvest should be made into different grades depending on the size. The production varies from cultivar to cultivar. A full grown grafted Aonla with good bearing habit yields from 187 to 299 kg fruits per tree.