Ground Apple (Yacon) ; A superfood

Introduction to the Ground Apple or Yacon

 

Many of us are familiar with apples that grow on tree. But there exists another fruit called ‘ground apple’ that is gaining ground among the Nepalese farmer. This fruit, otherwise called ‘Yacon’, is believed to

have entered Nepal from Japan, 10 years prior. Origin of this fruit are considered to be Peru and Bolivia in South America.

The plant grows up to two meters tall and the leaves are light green and long. Each year, one to four dozen dark red or purple sprouts sprout around the base of the plant. Each sprouted seedling is transplanted as a separate seedling from the Mid-March to first week of April in sandy loam soil with hot and humid climates in suitable land or areas of suitable height. This fruit is harvested by digging the ground from November to January of each year. At the root of a plant 15-20 fruits of about 10-15 kg can be found. One fruit weigh up to 2-2.5 kg.

About 15 days after the fruit is dug out of the ground, it is washed peeled away and the juicy light red part is cut into different pieces. When eaten, it is slightly sweet, tasty and has its own lights aroma. In term of nutrition, it has been found to be placed in the rank of highly nutritious fruits. This fruit is rich in iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, chlorine, magnesium, vitamin B-1, B-2 and vitamin C. It has been found to balance 60-70 percent of blood glucose and also contains insulin. So, it is called healing plants and is counted among the fruits containing super nutrition.

Chemical Composition of Yacon (Percent %)
Water 83.63
Carbohydrate 14.42
Protein 1.24
Ash 0.32
Fat 0.17
Crude Fiber 0.12
Calorie 64 / 100 gm

 

Possibility of Production and Trade of Ground Apple (Yacon) in Nepal

As Nepal is an agricultural country and there is considerable diversity in its topography and climate,

cultivation can be done on Nepalese land from 1500 meters to 3000 meters above sea level. On the other hand, as the demand is increasing in all the developed countries of the world and the interest in it is also increasing in the developing countries, there is ample potential to expand its production and export from Nepal as well. It also has the potential to solve employment problems by expanding its production, trade and consumption, as well as strengthening public health. In addition, due to its quality and market value as compared to other fruits and its good position in the international market, its production,consumption and trade are considered to be extremely profitable and healthy.

A decade ago, it was first cultivated as a trial in Kakani and Kathmandu Valley, but then it was cultivated sporadically in Kavre, Makwanpur, Godawari and Lalitpur. ICIMOD, an environmental organization has also been cultivating it as a sample trial for several years.

In the last two to three years, conscious farmers of some districts like Nuwakot, Rolpa, Rukum, Rasuwa, Makwanpur, Gorkha, Dolakha, Myagdi, Baglung, Lamjung, Gulmi and other districts have increased their interest in its organic production. Recently, it has started selling nationally and internationally through Agricultural product and Marketing Centre Pvt.Ltd.

Yacon Cultivation in Commercial Agriculture

  1. Nursery Preparation- Poush, Magh, Falgun
  2. Transplanting- Chaitra 15 to Baishakh 15
  3. Earthing up and Weeding- Ashad, Shrawan
  4. Fruit harvesting- Mangsir to Magh
  5. 600-800 plant can be planted in 1 ropani
  6. In 1 ropani, minimum 1,000 to 2,500 kg fruits can be produced.
  7. In a ropani, 50 kg leaves can be harvested for making tea.
  8. 20,000 seeds can be obtained from a ropani area for next season which can be used for mass commercial production.
  9. Cultivation is best suited in sandy loam soil and altitude of 1,500-3,000 masl.

Other Beneficial Possibilities

Ground apples are cut straight and eaten as a fruit or salad on the one hand, and Yacon herbal tea on the other hand. It can also be used as a raw material to make juice, drinks, confectionary, snacks, coolinary, syrup, brandy and wine. Also, benefits diabetics, kidney patients, patients with digestive diseases including constipation and controls cholesterol. Carbohydrates stored in ground apples are not stored as starch but as insulin so it has been found to be extremely good for diabetics. Ground apples are nature’s most organic, refined and highly nutritious fruit.

Yacon Syrup                                                      Leaves and Flowers                             Fruits

                              

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