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Ethiopia guavas is one of the highest income-generating fruit in the country.
The (Psidium guava Myrtaceae L)-Usually apple/lemon guava is the most extensively farmed variety in the whole of Ethiopia. The country’s export figures for the guava fruit last year stood at 126.9K tons with a lion share of that produce sourced from smallholder farmers.
Most of the fruits come from the eastern zone of Haraghe, near Ogaden.
It is still uncertain where the fruit came from, but many reliable sources date it back to Mexico or Central America.
The fruit grows 3-6 meters tall. It is further characterized by numerous thick stems with simple leaves extending from them. Its fruit is usually green when unripe but transforms into yellow, green or maroon when ripe with the pulp inside either sour or sweet.
Fresh-The fruit is in its raw fresh form.
Dried-This is whereby the Ethiopia guava is dried using natural means without necessarily topping it with other additives such as sugar. The moisture content level does not exceed 20%.
Nonetheless, some of the fruit is availed to the export market in its processed form such as juice.
Although, there is a wide range of guavas grown in Ethiopia the main ones include:
The yellow/cherry variety-Also referred to as cherry and strawberry. This one is preferred by many growers’ because it has different tastes. The yellow variety grows 2-6 meters tall.
Another variety is the Psidium guava.
The third one is the Thai maroon-It is still not as widely cultivated as the two varieties stated above. It is a combination of the red apple and guavas.
The wide range of nutritional and health benefits the fruit brings are some of the reasons Ethiopia guava is highly consumed within the country’s borders and globally.
It has minimal calories- 38 in total per fruit and to add to that it contains high levels of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.
It’s through its essential minerals that range from vitamin A, Vitamin C, phosphorous, potassium, iron to niancin that the fruit has been linked to astounding health benefits such as prevention of cancer, control of diabetes, regulation of blood pressure, stress relief, improved eyesight, dental care and suppression of diarrhea/dysentery among others.
What are the necessary growing Conditions?
Ethiopia guava is a tropical and subtropical fruit. Although the fruit can be grown at any time of the year it is advisable it is grown when there is warmth with the seedlings spaced 6 meters from each other. The fruit can survive in different soils, but it is essential that they are well drained as the crop rarely thrives in waterlogged soils. Regions with a lot of rainfall tend to give the fruit an added advantage with such regions exemplifying higher yields.
Conditions in the eastern zone of Haraghe and north-eastern area of Andassa are a perfect fit for the fruit. Over the years these regions have contributed hugely to the national produce. Altitudes there do not go below 1515 m which is another condition required for the growth of the fruit.
Growers frequently induce organic materials on their farmyards which help to boost productivity.
The main harvesting season for the fruit is in November and December. Guavas have long life spans as the fruits trees are known to last up-to two decades-the older tree produce sweeter fruits.
Guava trees take different periods to reach the bearing phase depending on the variety.
Some take 2-3 years while on the other hand, it takes up to ten years for them to reach the full fruit-bearing capacity. Two harvesting methods are prevalent amidst farmers.
One is manual whereby farmers pluck the fruits using sickles while the other one involves the use of a machine. The latter is rarely used since a majority of guava farmers are either small-scale, or family growers and the method is quite expensive.
After harvesting which takes place early in the morning, the fruits are transported immediately to the storage plants. Those that meet the required standard, for instance, all fruits without cuts or bruises are washed placed in wooden crates or small plastic containers while the bulk intended for shipment via air are put in designated boxes with synthetic lining inside.
The surplus is taken to the local markets where they are sold to retailers and wholesalers.
Conditions while transporting and packing
Ethiopia guava is a perishable fruit. Due to the long distance from the farms to Bola International Airport located in Addis Ababa where exporting takes place, an emphasis is put on providing conducive conditions under which the fruit is transported. The fruits are therefore pre-cooled at low temperatures of 5 °C and subsequent humidity level of less than 80 %. The fruit is also packed in polyethylene bags made of synthetic fibers after pre-cooling at temperatures not exceeding 10 degrees Celsius. It serves to increase the fruits’ shelf life, reduces damage and shields it from heat.
The route leading up to the harvesting of Ethiopia guava involves the following to the latter of all Global Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). The farmers understand that to elevate the appeal of Ethiopia guava to the internal and external markets; it is essential the fruits they produce be of the highest quality possible.