January 12, 2017


An average Indian consumer expects a fruit to be sweet, or sweet plus sour or at the most all sour like a lemon.  It should also have a flavour.  He cannot imagine a fruit which is completely tasteless and having no flavour at all.  He may refuse to recognize it as a fruit.  That is exactly how my family reacted when I offered them avocados for the first time in Liberia, West Africa.  They were wondering about these fruits, for which I had bought for half US dollar each. I had to give them a lecture on the virtues and commercial importance of this fruit.  I had also seen avocado for the first time in Liberia only, though since long, I had been teaching the Course, “Tropical and Subtropical Fruits” which contained a chapter on this fruit too.

But in spite of being devoid of taste and flavour, avocado is liked and eaten by millions of people in various parts of the world.  In fact, it is a staple food for millions in the Tropical America.

A fruit of avocado

Avocado was brought into South India and Maharashtra about 100 years back.  But nowhere, it is grown commercially.  The plants can be seen only in botanical gardens or at the most in back yards of some homes.

What is special about avocado?

Avocado (Persea americana) is a very unique fruit.  Its pulp contains oil whose content may vary from 15 to 25 per cent depending upon the variety.  So this fruit has also been called “butter fruit”, as the pulp has a buttery texture.  The oil contained in avocado is easily digestible and very good for health.  So this fruit is highly revered for its food value.  Avocado has more calories than banana.

A tree of avocado 

            The fruits are eaten fresh with bread or in salads with salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Some like to eat after mixing the pulp with sugar. The demand for avocados is increasing all over and it is becoming an important fruit in international trade too.

Medicinal value:

Various parts of avocado tree such as leaves, skin, fruits and seed are used for so many medicinal uses by the tribals of tropical America.  The fruits are also recommended to diabetics as these do not contain any sugar.

            The oil obtained from avocado flesh is rich in vitamins A, B, C and E. It has a digestibility coefficient of 93.8% and is high in monosaturated fats.  Clinical feeding studies have shown that avocado oil can reduce blood cholesterol. So eating avocados is very good for health.

Where will it grow?

Avocado is very a diverse fruit having three races differing a lot with each other.  There are over seven hundred named varieties of avocado, varying size, shape and colour.  Though it is basically a tropical fruit, but it can grow under subtropical and even sub-temperate conditions too.  Cultivars from Guatemalan race can bear a minimum temperature upto -3 C.  The Mexican types are reported to survive upto – 7 degrees Celsius.  The varieties from West Indian race, however, require tropical climate with high humidity at the time of flowering and fruit setting.

Avocado fruits on tree


There definitely seems to be scope for growing avocados.  A rapid change is taking place in awareness and life style in India.  Food habits are changing and people are becoming open to exotic fruits and vegetables.  So it should not be difficult for any enterprising fruit growers to find buyers for this fruit, which is so largely consumed outside India.  Moreover, avocado is not easy to transport like banana and chiku to distant markets.  The local growers may are therefore not expected face competition from the South India.


The first avocado tree was planted in Himachal Pradesh by late Dr. Y.S. Parmar in late seventies at his village farm at Bagthan, near Nahan.  Dr. Parmar had great love for fruit growing.  There was a fruit research station at Bagthan . I had worked there for two years and came into personal contact with this great visionary.

 Dr. Y. Parmar, the man who was the first to bring avocado to Himachal Pradesh

I happened to meet Dr. Y.S. Parmar only a few months before his death in 1982.  Though terminally ill with throat cancer, he talked about horticulture.  He proudly told me that his five years old avocado tree had borne fruits for the first time.  On my telling him that Bagthan was too cold for this tropical plant, he laughingly remarked, “You college trained horticulturists only have only bookish knowledge and cannot think beyond that”.

               I was told by his son, Mr. Luv Parmar, that the plant had survived and borne fruits for many years after his death.

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