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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Why has custard apple become rare and costly nowadays?

    With the rapid development of agriculture-related technology and improvement of infrastructure & transport, various fruits are now available all over India. Apple, orange, banana, litchi, mango, pomegranate, blackberry and guava are now available all over India. However, I have noticed that jackfruit (ripe) and custard apple have lost their popularity as fruits. Some months ago I raised a thread about ripe jackfruit. Now let us discuss about custard apple ('sharifa' in Hindi, 'ata' in Bengali).
    During my childhood days, custard apple was one of my favourite fruits. It was readily available in all the markets of Kolkata during season. The price was within the limit of middle-class people. But with the passage of time, custard apple has been losing popularity as fruit. Not only that, it is rarely available in the market (both in Kolkata and in Delhi). The price of custard apple has increased by leaps and bounds.
    Why is this happening to my favourite fruit? Can any Member explain?
  • #571230
    It was told by our elders that custard apple is the common fruit as it was available abundant and some used to eat it for free. In Hyderabad there is a place called Sitafalmandi near Secuderabad. In this place there used to be lots of trees which were not cared by others. Slowly that place gave rise to buildings and thus those trees have vanished. Now custard apple or Sitafal as we call it, is available only out of city. That means the traders has to fetch those fruits and thus they increase the price due to over head transport cost. Even in Hyderabad we are find fewer varieties and quantity over the years. That shows we are destroying the nature.
    K Mohan
    I consider myself as the learner everyday

  • #571235
    India is presently the second largest global producer of fruits in the world, first being the China.
    It is true that the visibility of custard apple or sugar apple also known as 'sharifa or sitaphal' has reduced in the market, but it doesn't necessarily mean, that its production has declined. Basically it is a perishable fruit and cannot be stored for longer periods. Perhaps because of this reason, it is not suitable for export . The focus of the farmers is on production of fruits which can be exported as they yield better profit.
    Custard apple is most commonly consumed as smoothies, shakes or natural ice creams. Custard apples also provide numerous health benefits.
    There are other factors also like the increase in population and growing popularity of imported fruits which have affected the visibility/availability of custard apple in the market.

    Let us encourage each other in sharing knowledge.

  • #571236

    Well Partha, to find your favourite fruit you will have to come all the way to our township in Hyderabad. At our place, custard apples grow in abundance during its season and is also available abundantly at low prices in our township market. In our quarter itself there are 5 custard apple trees and when they are in full bloom the trees are full of the spiky fruits. The best thing about the trees is that they simply refuse to die even when it was absolutely dry here in Hyderabad because of lack of rains prior to this monsoon. All the trees were bone dry without any sign of life, but the first rains of the season brought them back to life and now they are again blooming with fresh leaves. I don't know why, but the custard apple tree adapts very easily to the soil conditions here and grows abundantly, all of its own. Unfortunately for us the fruit isn't popular with us nor with the township residents, as hardly anyone bothers to pluck or purchase them from the market. Jackfruit and mango trees are also very commonly found in our township. We prefer the raw jackfruit as a vegetable but stay a mile away from the ripe ones, because of their strong smell and the slurpy feeling one gets while eating them.

    Patience and perseverance pays

  • #571245
    During my childhood, elders used to say that custard apple trees grow automatically. Birds, mainly parrots, eat these fruits and scatter the seeds everywhere. From the seeds, new trees grow without much effort, particularly in Bengal, where the land is fertile and rainfall is abundant.

    Then why does custard apple become such rare fruit?

    “Whenever I feel the need to exercise, I lie down until it goes away.” - Paul Terry

  • #571297
    Your elders were absolutely correct Partha. About the five trees I have mentioned in my last response, two of them have come up from the seeds we have thrown in the compound after consuming the fruits. Here in our township, they seem to grow everywhere, without necessitating any care. Its true that it's hard to find custard apples in the market these days. Perhaps, because of lack of popularity of the fruit. Children are not especially fond of it. There are too many seeds, big ones. Moreover, it's cumbersome to eat the fruit, as you have to first separate the flesh from the seeds, before you can consume it. Even though it tastes good, but eating the fruit is a messy experience. That's why most of us might not be preferring to have it in our fruit baskets. So, that could be the reason for the fruit's disappearance from the shelves.
    Patience and perseverance pays

  • #571302
    Even the varieties that are available are not good. They are hard and unripe and do not ripen properly or are infested with spider web-like mites. The fruit is also not fleshy. There is just a thin layer of pulp on each seed.

    Why do you not plant a custard apple tree at home? You get dwarf varieties that are actually hybrid. They grow pretty fast, can be planted in containers and provide abundant fruit. They are easy to maintain and you can also use them as a piece of decor - aka bonsai at home.

    I had a dwarf custard apple plant. Had to give it away because of lack of open space in my current home. If you get ample sunlight at your place and have a terrace or garden, you can begin container gardening. Most fruits and vegetables can be grown in containers.

    A fool will always try to make sense of his nonsense!

  • #571314
    Growing fruits and vegetables in containers; that's a nice suggestion. I have been contemplating, planting some vegetables like chillies in containers, for quite some time. Now that you have suggested planting dwarf custard apple plants in containers, I will pick up the idea and do some planting of my own, real soon. Dwarf custard apple plants; not a bad idea.
    Patience and perseverance pays

  • #571320
    I had a container kitchen garden on my first-floor terrace. I successfully grew fruit trees like guava, lemon, pomegranate, cheeku (sapota) and miniature oranges. I also had tomatoes, ladyfinger, different varieties of brinjal, spinach, fenugreek, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, cilantro and mint in my garden.

    Ladyfinger was grown in 6-7 containers, which meant I had around 250 -300 gms of fresh ladyfingers every morning. It sufficed for one meal. The spinach and fenugreek grew quite quickly as well, as did the tomatoes. I had planted the latter in 5-6 pots and got a good yield, every few days.

    Gardening was taken up as a hobby and I made quite a success of it. It is a pity I had to give away most of my plants when we shifted home.

    You will need to watch out for pests if you begin vegetable and fruit gardening. Squirrels and bats can be a nuisance. I learned to make my own pesticides - the organic variety, to deal with these critters.

    A fool will always try to make sense of his nonsense!

  • #571400
    Got a very good idea from Mrs. Juana. Let me try to utilise our terrace with custard apple plant. However, I have to be careful about the parrots living in the Government-allotted(?) gigantic mango tree in our compound.
    “Whenever I feel the need to exercise, I lie down until it goes away.” - Paul Terry

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