Tamarind for rural livelihood and nutritional security

Tamarind is an important source of food for rural communities. Tamarind pulp is commonly used in cooking, and it adds a sour and tangy taste to dishes. This fruit is also rich in nutrients, such as vitamins B and C, and minerals like calcium and iron, which are essential for maintaining good health. Additionally, tamarind seeds can be roasted and eaten as a snack or ground into flour and used to make bread. Tamarind is used in traditional medicine to treat a wide range of ailments. The bark, leaves, and fruit of the tamarind tree contain various medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant effects. This tree is also a significant source of income for many rural communities. The fruit and its products are in high demand in many industries, such as food, cosmetics, and medicine. Rural communities can sell tamarind products, such as tamarind paste, tamarind juice, and tamarind candy, to local markets or export them to other regions. Tamarind processing is a labor-intensive industry that creates jobs and employment opportunities for many people in rural areas. Furthermore, the cultivation of tamarind has several benefits for the environment. Tamarind trees are well adapted to drought and can grow in various soil types, making them ideal for reforestation projects in arid regions. Tamarind trees also improve soil fertility, prevent soil erosion, and provide shade, which benefits other crops and wildlife.

In light of the growing significance of the crop, the aim was to pinpoint superior-quality trees with high pulp recovery. To accomplish this, a survey was conducted in the Tumkur district of Karnataka to assess the variability of tree and pod characteristics and to identify elite trees based on their horticultural traits. Samples were gathered from the region and analyzed at the ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticulture Research in Bengaluru, leading to the identification of an elite tamarind variety “Lakshamana,” with broad pods exhibiting good pulp color and recovery. This variety had a higher yield and pod characteristics, with an average annual yield of 251.4 kg/tree compared to 165.0 kg/tree in local trees over a 4-year period from 2016 to 2020. Additionally, this elite tree demonstrated a high pulp recovery of 43% compared to local tamarind trees, which exhibited 28% pulp recovery and had nutritional traits such as total acidity and total sugar of 20% and 29.78%, respectively. The compact and spreading form of the tree structure was found to be advantageous for harvesting the pods.

Lakshamana farmer’s variety of tamarind

For further reading:



Authors: Kanupriya C, Karunakaran G and Pritee Singh, ICAR-IIHR, Hesaraghatta, Bengaluru