Bitter gourd

Bitter Gourd : Mormodica charantia L.

Introduction

Bitter gourd is popular due to its medicinal properties. Origin of the crop is unknown, but it is widely spread throughout the tropics. The fruit is a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B. In Sri Lanka Bitter gourd is eaten as a vegetable. It can be successfully grown on elevation from sea level to about 1200m. It can be cultivated in low country and mid country during both seasons. The identified districts for Bitter gourd production are Kurunegala, Hambantota, Ratnapura, Kandy, Matale, Nuwara Eliya, Anuradhapura, Puttalam, and Ampara districts.

The identified districts of Kurunagala, Hambantota, Ratnapura, Kandy and Matale, Nuwara Eliya, Anuradhapura, Puttalam and Amparai will be the major Bitter gourd cultivating areas in Sri Lanka.


Nutritive value

The fruit is used as vegetable as well as it can be used as a medicine for diabetics and vermifuge . Nutritional composition (values are per 100g of edible portion is given below)


Nutritional Composition (Which are per 100g of edible portion)

Energy

25 cal

Moisture

92.4 g

Protein   

1.6 g

Fat

0.2 g

Carbohydrate 

4.2 g

Calcium

20 mg

Phosphorus

70 mg

Iron

1.8 mg

Carotene

126 mcg

Thiamine

70 mcg

Riboflavin

90 mcg

Niacin

0.5 mg

Vitamin c

88 mg

Source Tables of Food Composition .Medical Research Institute, Colombo


Recommended Varieties
The recommended varieties are Thinnavely white and mc43. Although the other two genotypes are similar to Thinnaveli white and mc43 but dark green in colour are popular among the

farmers.

 

Field Establishment
Planting Spacing: 1.5 X 1.0


Crop Management
Fertilizer (Kg / Ha)

 

Urea

TSP

MOH

Basal

75

200

60

Top Dressing-1 (4 WAP) 

75

----

60

Top Dressing-2 (8 WAP)

75

---

60


Harvesting & Post-harvest Technology

Peak production months

Bitter gourd peak production months during the Maha season are January, February and the first two weeks of March and April, May June and July for the Yaha season.


Post-harvest loss reduction and value addition

The post-harvest loss of bitter gourd is about 25%. Main reason for this much of loss is due to ripening and mechanical damage during transport. Reduction of post-harvest loss minimizes the unit production cost and the price gap between grower and consumer.

Due to warty nature of the fruit the transport damage is very high. Further using poly sack bags for packing causes a severe damage to the fruit. If fruits are carefully transported, post-harvest loss can be minimized to a greater extent.

Bitter gourd can be stored at ambient temperature for 4-6 days if they are harvested in a slightly immature stage. However this storage life can further be extended by storing them at 13 deg C. The maximum storage life at low temperature is limited to 14-16 days.

Value addition of bitter gourd can be done by dehydration. Thin slices can be dehydrated and this technology is adopted in a small scale for domestic purposes. A better quality product can be prepared if driers are used for dehydration. In addition slices of this fruit can be preserved in brine solution.

 

Economics & Marketing

Extent and production

Bitter gourd cultivation extent and production during 1991-1999

Year

Extent (ha)

Production (t)

 

Maha

Yala

Total

Maha

Yala

Total

1991 

1962

1716

3678

10696

9856

20552

1992

1771

2017

3788

9202

12935

22137

1993

1970

1677

3647

11746

9910

21656

1994

1828

1586

3414

11091

9486

20577

1995

2141

1573

3714

12670

9223

22093

1996

1949

1648

3597

10909

9540

20449

1997 

1992

1562

3554

10894

8689

19583

1998

1901

1606

3507

11430

9126

20556

1999

1968

1638

3606

11319

9226

20545

Source : Department of Census and Statistics.

During 1991 to 1999 the total cultivated extent ranged between 3414 ha and 3788 ha and total production 19583l and 22093t. There were no significant changes over this 9 year period with regard to total extent and total production. However during the Maha season cultivation, the extent and production were higher than the Yala season except during 1992. This might be due to the prevalence of favourable weather conditions during the Maha season.

Production cost
The unit production cost for the 1998 to 2001 is given in the table showing that the production costs were similar during 1998, 1999, and 2000. The projected unit area cost of production during 2001 is low, the reason being the inducement and encouragement given to the farmers to adopt the appropriate crop management technology through demonstration programme.

Operations

Labor Unit (Mandays)

Labor cost (Rs/ha)

Material cost (Rs/ha)

Total cost (Rs/ha)

Land preparation

28.92

4338

3813

8151

Trellising

39.73

5959

4177

10136

Seed  

19.74

2961

2663

5624

Fertilizer Application

15.58

2337

2831

5168

Manual weeding

34.82

5223

-

-5223

Pest & disease

35.71

5357

11700

17057

Harvesting

77.61

11642

-

11642

Total

252.11

37817

25184

63000

 

Average yield

15t/ha

Price of produce

14 Rs/kg

Net income

147000 Rs/ha

Unit cost of production

4.20 Rs/kg


Export improvement
There is an export potential for mature fruits with fresh appearance and dehydrated fruits (dry split or sliced fruits).