Pomegranate Farming, Yield , profits & Expenses

Pomegranate is a drought-tolerant plant and grows in many parts of India with subtropical and Mediterranean weather. Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan are a few of the states which are suitable for Pomegranate cultivation but other parts of the country have moderate quantities of pomegranate cultivation. Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, and parts of Himachal are known to cultivate pomegranate with some success.

Pomegranate is a profitable orchard plantation due to its continuous requirement as fresh fruit and for processed food. Pomegranate juice is one of the popular and in-demand processed foods that have a high demand in all seasons. Due to the health benefits of pomegranate, it is always a welcome fruit in all parts of the world and India too. Due to constant demand, the price o the fruit is steady and rarely dips. An average price of 150 Rs per kilo is very common in all parts of the country. Depending on the quality and variety, the price of the fruit may increase or decrease by a slight amount. Red Varieties are more popular than pink ones and fetch a higher price.

Basics of Pomegranate Cultivation

  1. Climate and Soil Requirements: Pomegranates thrive in tropical and subtropical climates. They require hot and dry summers with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 35°C (77°F to 95°F) and cool winters with temperatures around 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F). Pomegranate trees prefer well-drained loamy soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 7.5.
  2. Varieties: India cultivates several pomegranate varieties, including the popular Bhagwa, Ganesh, Arakta, Mridula, and Ruby. Each variety has its unique characteristics in terms of taste, color, and size. It is advisable to select suitable varieties based on the local climate and market demand.
  3. Land Preparation and Planting: The land should be thoroughly prepared by plowing and leveling to ensure good drainage. Pomegranate plants can be propagated through seeds, but it is more common to use vegetative methods like stem cuttings or grafting onto rootstocks. Planting is usually done during the monsoon season (June to July) or at the onset of the winter season (October to November).
  4. Irrigation: Pomegranate trees require regular irrigation, especially during the initial stages of growth and fruit development. Drip irrigation is highly recommended for efficient water management and preventing waterlogging.
  5. Fertilizers and Nutrients: Proper nutrient management is crucial for healthy pomegranate trees and high-quality fruit production. Organic manure, along with balanced doses of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK), should be applied based on soil test results and the tree’s growth stage.
  6. Pruning and Training: Regular pruning helps in maintaining the shape of the tree, improving sunlight penetration, and enhancing air circulation. Pruning is usually done during the dormant period to remove dead or diseased branches and promote new growth.
  7. Pest and Disease Management: Pomegranate farming faces challenges from pests like aphids, thrips, whiteflies, and diseases such as bacterial blight, powdery mildew, and fruit rot. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices involving biological control, cultural practices, and judicious use of pesticides should be adopted to minimize chemical usage and ensure sustainable farming.
  8. Harvesting and Post-Harvest Management: Pomegranates are harvested when they reach maturity, which can be determined by observing their color, size, and sweetness. Harvesting is usually done manually to avoid damage to the fruit. Proper post-harvest handling, including grading, cleaning, and packing, is essential to maintain fruit quality and extend its shelf life.
  9. Market and Export Potential: India has a significant domestic market for pomegranates, with increasing demand for both fresh fruit and processed products like juice, concentrates, and arils. Pomegranates also have good export potential to countries like the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, providing opportunities for farmers to tap into international markets.

Pomegranate cultivation practices

In India, most pomegranate cultivation is done in the central area and parts of South India. This includes Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana. In Kerala, the weather conditions are not perfectly suitable for pomegranates. When it comes to cultivation practices and techniques, Pomegranate is cultivated in normal traditional farming and a few in high density

Distance of 3X3 is common and in some farms, a distance of 4X4 or 4.5 X3 meters is also practiced depending on the area of cultivation. Larger space between trees allows easy access for machinery and pesticide sprayers.

Pomegranate takes 5-7 months for fruiting but some varieties take up to 4 years before fruiting. The first fruit is always thinned to help the plant grow more stems and branch out. This benefits the plants the next year in producing more fruits and flowers. 

Thinning and pruning are practiced every year and sometimes twice a year. The plants shed their leaves every winter and come back up in spring. Being a deciduous plant,  Cuttings are done 2-3 weeks after winter. This promotes better growth of a plant, develop better stems and healthier leaves and fruits

When the fruiting starts, pruning is practiced post-harvest, usually a month after harvest.

Water requirements for pomegranate are minimal and the plant itself is drought tolerant. What it does not tolerate are flooded fields and wet roots. 

Varieties of Pomegranate Cultivated in India

  1. Bhagwa: Bhagwa is one of the most widely cultivated pomegranate varieties in India. It is known for its vibrant red arils, sweet flavor, and high juice content. Bhagwa pomegranates have a good shelf life and are in high demand. The average yield of Bhagwa pomegranates per acre ranges from 8 to 12 tons.
  2. Ganesh: Ganesh is another popular variety known for its large-sized fruit and deep red arils. It has a balanced sweet-tart flavor and is favored by consumers. The yield of Ganesh pomegranates per acre can range from 8 to 12 tons.
  3. Mridula: Mridula is a variety that produces medium-sized pomegranates with a beautiful reddish-brown color. The arils are juicy and have a sweet-tart taste. The average yield of Mridula pomegranates per acre is around 6 to 8 tons.
  4. Arakta: Arakta is a variety that stands out due to its dark red color and high sweetness. The arils have a distinct tartness and are often used for juicing purposes. The yield of Arakta pomegranates per acre can range from 6 to 8 tons.
  5. Ruby: Ruby is a variety known for its medium to large-sized fruits and attractive deep red color. The arils have a good balance of sweetness and tartness. The average yield of Ruby pomegranates per acre is around 6 to 8 tons.

States with High Pomegranate Cultivation

  1. Maharashtra: Maharashtra is the leading state in pomegranate production in India. Within Maharashtra, the districts of Solapur, Nashik, Sangli, Pune, Ahmednagar, and Satara are known for extensive pomegranate cultivation. The region’s hot and dry climate, coupled with well-drained soil, creates ideal conditions for pomegranate farming.
  2. Karnataka: Karnataka is another significant pomegranate-growing state in India. The districts of Bijapur, Bagalkot, Gadag, Belgaum, and Kolar are known for their pomegranate orchards. The state’s climate, characterized by a combination of tropical and semi-arid conditions, supports pomegranate cultivation.
  3. Andhra Pradesh: Andhra Pradesh is a major pomegranate-growing state, with the districts of Anantapur, Kurnool, Chittoor, and Kadapa being the prominent cultivation areas. The region’s semi-arid climate and well-drained soil are suitable for pomegranate farming.
  4. Gujarat: Gujarat has witnessed significant growth in pomegranate cultivation in recent years. The districts of Junagadh, Amreli, Bhavnagar, and Mehsana are known for their pomegranate orchards. The state’s climate, with hot summers and moderate winters, provides favorable conditions for pomegranate cultivation.
  5. Rajasthan: Pomegranate cultivation in Rajasthan is concentrated in the districts of Jalore, Nagaur, and Sikar. The arid and semi-arid climate of these regions, coupled with proper water management techniques, allows for successful pomegranate farming.
  6. Tamil Nadu: Pomegranate cultivation in Tamil Nadu is primarily seen in the districts of Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, and Vellore. The region’s moderate climate and suitable soil conditions support pomegranate cultivation.
  7. Uttar Pradesh: In Uttar Pradesh, the districts of Mathura, Meerut, Agra, and Muzaffarnagar have seen an increase in pomegranate cultivation. The state’s favorable agro-climatic conditions, along with suitable soil types, make it conducive for pomegranate farming.

pomegranate cultivation cost and profit per acre

Pomegranate cultivation is profitable if done well and practiced with care. There are pests and diseases which affect pomegranate. This includes borers, Anthracnose, fruit splitting, and a lot more. Application of pesticides and chemicals are sometimes essential. Organic sprays may control pests to some extent but care should be taken while planting pomegranate commercially. The proximity between plants is not recommended for organic farming and is surely not a high-density plantation. The chance of pest infestation is much faster in organic farms, especially when plants are much closer. 

Things you need to know about the costs of pomegranate farming.

  1. Pomegranate farming is usually an orchard setup where plants do not start any revenue for the first few years. Most commercial farms start earning only in the 5 the year. This is often a long time for most farmers to take care of the farm because revenue in that area is zero for that time
  2. While pomegranate plants are cheap, you must grow the variety that is most used in your area. Red pomegranate is usually the best selling one and with bigger sized fruits, chances are most customers will prefer them. Pink varieties though excellent in every way are not usually preferred by customers. Always prefer something which is seedless.
  3. Pomegranates do not require too much water but they sure do require water for the first 3 years. Drip irrigation is the best method of irrigation when it comes to pomegranate farming. Fortunately, in most areas, water consumption is very minimal and the yield is much higher in pomegranate farming
  4. Pruning every year is mandatory. This cuts on to the cost but carelessness in pruning will result in fewer branches and poor yield. Annual pruning and plant maintenance the first few years is crucial for the success of pomegranate farmers
  5. Pest control: Know the pests which may affect pomegranate. This will save you a lot of heartaches, especially in the flowering and fruiting seasons. Knowing the diseases and cures can save a lot of time and money.

With all the pro’s and cons of pomegranate farming, let us get to the numbers

  1. Pomegranate plants produce 5-10 KG fruits in the 4th year. They increase up to 25 KG in the third year and may go up to 50 kg gradually.
  2. Pomegranate trees live up to 50 years. This usually is excellent for farmers as they don’t have to replant every year.
  3. Approximately 200-300 plants can be accommodated in one acre of land. With just 200 plants per acre and 15 KG per tree, a farmer can earn up to 4,50,000 per year in the 6th year in turnover. The profits only keep increasing every year from then on.
  4. Per acre yield of pomegranate is 8 Tonnes, far more than most other crops if taken good care of.

But pomegranate farming comes with a few expenses too. Plant propagation, purchase of good quality plants, Land preparation, weeding, labor, irrigation set up and harvesting costs are all to be incurred by the farmer. 

Let us look into the expenses before talking about profit and revenue

Ref: http://apeda.in/agriexchange/Market%20Profile/MOA/Product/Pomegranate.pdf

Pomegranate Farming Expense

Land preparation25000
Fertilizer and Manure25000
Irrigation Setup50000

Apart from the above expenses, there is the expense of weeding which is constant for every year at 25000. The plant cost is nominal at 4 Rupees per plant but could go as high as 50 rupees per plant depending on availability and variety.

But even with the expense, you are sure to cover the cost and make a profit of approximately 2 and a half lakh in the 6th year.

Export Potential and Challenges

  1. International Demand: Pomegranates are in demand worldwide, particularly in countries with a high consumption of fresh fruits and a growing interest in healthy and exotic produce. The sweet and tangy flavor, vibrant color, and health benefits of pomegranates make them appealing to consumers in various countries.
  2. Established Markets: Indian pomegranates have a strong presence in several international markets, including the United States, European Union, Russia, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. These markets have a consistent demand for pomegranates, making them attractive destinations for Indian exporters.
  3. Quality and Taste: Indian pomegranates are known for their superior taste and quality. The unique varieties grown in India, such as Bhagwa and Ganesh, are preferred for their deep red color, large size, and sweet arils. The consistent supply of high-quality pomegranates has helped build a positive reputation for Indian produce in export markets.
  4. Competitive Advantage: India has a competitive advantage in pomegranate exports due to its favorable climatic conditions and diverse agro-climatic zones. This enables year-round production and availability of pomegranates, allowing Indian exporters to cater to the demand in different seasons.
  5. Organic and Sustainable Production: With increasing global awareness about organic and sustainable farming practices, Indian pomegranates have gained attention due to the availability of organic produce. Organic pomegranates from India are sought after by health-conscious consumers and niche markets that prioritize environmentally friendly and chemical-free products.
  6. Processing and Value-added Products: Apart from fresh pomegranates, there is a growing demand for processed pomegranate products such as juice, concentrates, arils, and extracts. India has the infrastructure and technology to process pomegranates and develop value-added products, which enhances the export potential and market diversification opportunities.
  7. Government Support: The Indian government has been actively promoting agricultural exports, including pomegranates, through various schemes and initiatives. These efforts aim to facilitate market access, provide financial assistance, improve infrastructure, and ensure compliance with international quality and safety standards.
  8. Trade Agreements: Bilateral and multilateral trade agreements between India and other countries have facilitated market access and reduced trade barriers for pomegranate exports. These agreements, along with favorable import regulations, contribute to the export growth of Indian pomegranates.

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