Exploring Blackberry Fruit’s Potential

                                      Pratibha Sharma
Blackberry is an under-rutilized soft fruit originating in the Himalayan belt with lot of potential and a ready market. If fully explored it can benefit a large chunk of farmers and also give a boost to Jammu and Kashmir’s economy.
The book has been authored by noted scientists working in the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Jammu based on their long field experiences. This 58-page book has given comprehensives detail of this horticulture product with illustrations and narration in a lucid style. The Blackberry has not only unique taste but numerous therapeutic values. The Yak Publishing Channel has really done a commendable job by publishing this book by noted experts on the subject.
This deciduous to evergreen fruit has a great demand because of its medicinal and nutritive properties. It has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antimicrobial and anti-carcinogenic properties with notable nutritional contents like vitamin  C, K, folic acid, essential minerals, anthocyanins,  Omega-3-  and 6-   fatty acids and ellagic acid.Besides, it is also good source of potassium, calcium, manganese and iron, and rich in anti-oxidant vitamins A and C.
The team of scientists: Kiran Kour, R.M. Sharma, Brajeshwar Singh, Julie D. Bandral and Neeraj Kotwal have underscored the urgent need of survey to select the promising indigenous strains and the import of promising variety  from abroad to make it popular among the consumers to make the fruit  as a part of their diet. Being a hardy plant, this can also be a source of wasteland development in temperate areas in Jammu and Kashmir.
In India, the natural plantation of Himalayan blackberry can be found in temperate areas of North Western Himalayan States including Jammu and Kashmir with a lot of variability in fruit shape, size, colour and the morphological characteristics of the plants. Due to scant attention of researchers, the potential of these naturally existing plantations has not been fully explored so far in our country.
The Greeks used the blackberry as a remedy for Gout, and the Romans made a tea from the leaves of the blackberry plant to treat various illness. It is valuable remedy for dysentery and diarrhea. The root is more astringent than the leaves. The leaves can be used to make herbal teas. Medicinal products for chest ailments and in skin care.  These are also used for their anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties as well as their anti-proliferate activity against cancer cells.
There is need for raising blackberry (Rubus spp.)  production and also exploited for commercial cultivation of this popular fruit crop which is popular in many countries of Europe, Russia, Germany, USA  and Poland
Quality seed is the least costing input in the crop, so selection of good planting material is very important. Care should be taken while crop plantation, goods growing environment yields maximum profits. Good quality fruits are results of optimum nutrition, poor nutrients supply is determined for crop health and fruit. Training and pruning of plants keeps them in best of health for quality fruit yield. Taking care of quality fruits is essential for good marketing hence harvesting and then cares till it reaches ultimate consumers is important.
Blackberry can be relished in many ways that adds to its markests value by having its jam, wine, ice-cream, blackberry pie and also blackberry jelly.
This book, having a number of botanical features with pictures, charts and tables, is important for the horticulturists and even common people in Jammu and Kashmir as also across our country. A lot of extension field work by the expert is needed to propagate production of blackberry fruit. Such a useful and informative book should be translated into  Dogri, Urdu, Hindi and other regional languages so that every cultivators are sensitized about the potential and productivity of  the blackberry fruit.
(Starline Syndicate Service)