With over 31,000,000 Indians suffering from diabetes, the lifestyle disease is at an all-time high in India. There is a real need for a healthier alternative to sugar and other assorted sweeteners. Sure, processed sugar-free tablets are available in the market, but what if we could find an all-natural alternative instead?
Well, this is where the Monk fruit comes in.
The Monk fruit is a small green gourd, that resembles a melon, and is native to China. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar, high on nutritional value, and low on calories. The natural compound in the fruit also does not increase blood pressure, and all these qualities make it the perfect natural solution to fulfil the sugar needs of the population.
In what is possibly a first-of-its-kind effort, scientists in the Indian Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT) which is a part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Himachal Pradesh have successfully grown this fruit in Palampur.
Speaking to the Daily Pioneer, Dr Sanjay Kumar, the Director of CSIR-IHBT, Palampur, said,
“Since India is home to 62.4 million people with diabetes Type 2, this is wondrous fruit for them.
We have been successful in our experiments at our farms. Now, we are focusing for process technology and product development (extract) from Monk fruit. We hope intense sweeteners made from the juice of this fruit will soon be available in the market.”
The Monk fruit is not commercially cultivated in nearby regions due to a lack of proper resources—agricultural techniques and scientific knowledge being important examples.
However, the scientists in Himachal Pradesh have seemingly done the impossible, thus paving the way for its commercial cultivation.
The seeds were introduced to Indian soils through the ICAR National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (ICAR NBPGR) and show potential in taking the market of natural, low-calorie market by storm.
“Now, a team of scientists including an agronomist, chemist, plant breeder and molecular biologist from the IHBT are intensively working towards [the] development of good agricultural practices and varietal improvement,” Dr Probir Kumar Pal, a senior scientist at the institute told the publication, adding that “Here we have successfully grown it by ensuring adequate climatic conditions and agro-techniques.”
Even as the prevalence of diabetes is increasing, the number of health-conscious consumers also continues to rise simultaneously. The introduction of the Monk fruit can potentially be a game changer in both graphs.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)