by ERNESTO T. SOLIDUM
With profusion of fruits that come along with summer like watermelon, mango, pineapple, oranges, bananas and others, a person is more likely to indulge in those refreshing treats. Tropical fruits are known for their creamy, sweet and tangy taste and nutritious taste, promote digestion and well being. Definitely low in carbs but rich in vitamins and minerals, fruits are much preferably eaten by health buffs and physical fitness experts.
Fruits are not only nutritious but therapeutic. If not, then that could be exceptional. One fruit that is of less economic importance before is now basking in popularity. This is the guyabano or soursoup, introduced as a crop in the 17th century. Other crops that came along with the famous galleon trade are coffee, pineapple and avocado. However, guyabano was not popular due to its sour taste, pulpiness and “wetness”. Shelf life is limited to two days afterwards the fruit turns black.
Recent research findings show that adriamycin extracts from guyabano has the potential to cure cancer and other human ailments including UTI, constipation, leg cramps, water retention, migraines, anemia and pregnancy complications.
Aside from the fruit, other plant parts have medicinal uses. One can rid intestinal worms by chewing the leaves. Applying fresh leaves in wounds helps in faster healing. Brewing the roots or leaves and mixed with bathing water could neutralize fever. Young leaves could be massaged to the skin for diseases such as rheumatism, eczema and pimples. Oil seed extract can control head lice.
Mature but ripened fruits are used as vegetable cooked with coconut milk paired with dried fish or “sinaing”. Ripened fruit is a dessert, its juice is used for flavoring ice cream, sherbets, canning and for preparation of refreshing drinks.
Guyabano has an edible portion of 70 percent with food and energy of 63 calories. Its sugar content is 4-14 percent depending upon the variety either sweet or sour. Two strains are presently identified namely: Aguinaldo (1 kgm fruit) and Davao (1.7 kgm fruit).
The Bureau of Agriculture Statistics in 2003 showed that only 3,016 hectares were planted to guyabano by 5 leading regions: Western Visayas – 705 hectares, Southern Tagalog – 643 hectares, Cagayan Valley – 400 hectares, Central Visayas – 169 hectares and Central Luzon – 165 hectares.
Consequently, as demand for the crop rises the price of guyabano becomes prohibitive. Presently in Kalibo, a kilo of ripe guyabano fetches for P30 – P100.00. However, this can be about one half the price of mangosteen, also reputed to fight cancer and other human illness.
Under the Aklan climatic and soil conditions, guyabano begins to bear fruits in 3-4 years after planting. It also depends on the farmers caring guyabano. It is propagated from seeds which are individually sown 4-5 meters between plants and also 4-5 meters between rows in seedling bags filled with fine sand and compost. Transplanting is done 5-6 months later or when seedlings are 15 cms. tall. Planting distance is 4-5 meters each way. Judicious fertilizer application, weeding and watering are necessary to insure a healthy growth. Fruiting does not occur at the same time hence, selective harvesting is done.
Start picking fruits when they turn shiny green or yellowish green and the spines are set far apart. An averaged family of 6 members can be assured of continuous supply of guyabano fruits with just a few trees in the backyard. Above all, the high price of the fruit in the market should prod farmers and entrepreneurs to develop the promising crop. Who knows guyabano will rival Cavendish bananas, pineapple and mangoes in terms of dollar earnings in the future? /MP