Shimla : The wholesale grain market in Shimla is flooded with ‘anardana’ or seeds of wild pomegranate, a fruit that grows in mid-hills of Himachal Pradesh.
It’s an important ingredient in many of the Indian cuisines and also much in demand by pharmaceutical firms because of its medicinal properties.
The ‘anardana’ crop that started coming in the market last month would continue till month-end, trade representatives said here Monday.
“This year the crop is good and a number of traders from Chandigarh, Delhi and Kolkata have been camping here to procure it,” local trader Mohan Verma said .
Red seeds of ‘anardana’ are superior to white seeds in quality, he said, adding these sell from Rs.300 to Rs.350 per kg in the wholesale market.
“A mix of red and white seeds sell from Rs.200 to Rs.250 a kg in wholesale,” he added.
The pomegranate trees grow in the wild and locals collect the fruit after the monsoon. They sell ‘anardana’, or seeds, across north Indian markets after drying them in the sun.
Sunni in Shimla district and Darlaghat in Solan district are known for producing wild pomegranates.
‘Anardana’ worth millions of rupees is collected from the hills and sold at various markets, horticulture experts said. Besides ‘anardana’, huge quantities of the fruit rind are also used in various industries.
“It’s a good source of earning for hundreds of families in the state who are directly dependent upon it,” seller Hem Raj said.
“Earlier, people used to collect wild pomegranates for personal consumption. Now, they are selling it due to good returns,” he added.
Verma said 50 to 60 quintals of ‘anardana’ are traded daily in Shimla. Similarly, it is traded in the grain market of Solan town.
The ‘anardana’ grown in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir is much in demand due to good juicy content, said a Delhi trader, Brij Sharma.
“The price of ‘anardana’ is up by Rs.25 to Rs.30 per kg this year as compared to last year. The demand, especially from pharmaceutical companies, is picking up,” he added.
Himachal Pradesh is known for growing various wild spices and medicinal plants and hundreds of families earn their livelihood by collecting and selling these.
The state government has signed a contract with Patanjali Yogpeeth of yoga guru Baba Ramdev for purchase of medicinal plants and spices directly from the locals.