The fruit came to Egypt by 1600 BC from modern day Syria, and to Rome by 700 BC through Carthage. Romans called it " Punicum malum" which means Phoenician apple. Regardless of where pomegranate was introduced, it was loved by virtually every nation and culture. Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Islam , Buddhism, many extinct religions have an important place for pomegranate in their history.
|pomegranates on the market|
Even with local low prices , farmers in India and Afghanistan can make up to $ 5000 per hectare, which is significantly ( by about 50 %) more than a farmer makes by growing opium poppies. USA spent at the very least $12 million supporting Afghanistan's pomegranate growing effort. I assume at least part of that money is going to build a $ 10 million juice factory in Kabul which is in construction now. Pomegranate processing lines are generally expensive, a 10 ton/hour line costs about $3.2 million, and a 5 ton per hour line cost $2.7 million. It would be interesting to know how potent is that factory so we can know how much US funds will be pocketed this time.
|pomegranate tree with juicy fruits|
Pomegranate juice is thought to diminish blood supply to cancerous cells, thus delaying tumor progression and lengthen lives. For example, PSA levels of men who were drinking pomegranate juice took almost twice as long to reach critical levels compared to other recovering men who did not drink it.
Pomegranate juice is also thought to be helpful with fighting heart disease and osteoarthritis. Loaded with antioxidants it surely can't be too bad, however studies are needed to be performed, and it is really surprising that many companies spend fortunes on advertising instead of actual health studies ( perhaps they know something that we don't already? ) In the very recent study of pomegranate seed oil it showed no difference with placebo while treating menopausal hot flashes.
World production of pomegranate
This one is pretty hard to estimate, since this tree does not take long to bring the first fruit, and yields along with the acreage change very fast. There is also a lot of so called wild fruit , along with individual trees in small gardens. No governmental agency like FAO or USDA , nobody at all really keeps a track of pomegranates, despite of growing interest and prices for pomegranate juice. I found a few reports from India and South Africa, but they were grossly incorrect.
I'd estimate that about 3.2-3.35 million tonnes of pomegranates were produced in 2009 with India as a number one producer ( up to 900 000 tons ) and Iran being number one producer per capita with about 10 kilograms of pomegranate per each Persian;
Considering the low quality of many orchards and a high % of wild fruit, that fruit contained no more than 1 billion liters of juice, which comes to less than 5 fluid ounces of juice per each human in the world as of 2009. Leftover peel is used in a variety of ways, from a high-quality animal feed additive to leather treatment, medicine production, etc. Considering the low cost of pomegranates at the farm gate in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan ( sometimes as low as $200 per ton , pretty much always less than $1000 ) pomegranate processing can be a good business even considering high costs of equipment / etc .
The amount of pomegranate that is available for international market is very small, possibly less than 250 000 tonnes. Top 3 producers-- India, Iran and China which produce more than two thirds of all fruit in the world -- and export less than 55 000 tonnes of pomegranate. Spain, Turkey and USA are important exporters.
POM wonderful is a key player on American market.
With globalism going wild even Peru, South Africa and Australia got themselves a few orchards.
Country Production, tonnes, Exports Hectares Year
1) India 900 000 33400 122000 2009
2) Iran 790 000 28000 65000 2009
3) China 700 000 ?? 110 000 2009
4) Turkey 130 000 15000 20000 2009
5) USA 120 000 17 000 14000 2010
6) Iraq 100 000 0 25000 2010-2011
6) Spain 80000 40000 ?
7) Syria 70 000 ? ?
8) Azerbaijan 60 000 15000 15000
9)Afghanistan 60 000 1000 12000
10)Uzbekistan 35 000 10 000 5000
11) Pakistan 30 000 4500 6000
Egypt, Tunis, Morocco and Israel are producing about 30 000 tonnes each.
Other produces are Armenia. Georgia, Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Peru , Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, Albania, Libya, Algiers, Macedonia, Croatia, a few others.
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