Georgofili World

Newsletter of the Georgofili Academy

Pomegranates: a potential industrial crop with nutraceutical value

Pomegranates are mainly cultivated in areas with a Mediterranean climate, but tests carried out in Emilia Romagna have shown that the crop’s distributional area can also be extended to northern areas, using the right germ plasm. The interest in this species has been spurred by the fruit’s nutraceutical quality and the plant’s hardy nature that also adjusts to marginal areas. Pomegranate juice is an excellent source of vitamin C and the B-complex group of vitamins and potassium as well as considerable quantities of antioxidant polyphenols. Among the latter is ellagic acid (a plant tannin) which has anti-tumoral properties and acts against free radicals and oxidative processes at a cellular level. The production potential of this plant is very high (up to 40 t/ha). In addition to being highly drought-resistant, pomegranates show high levels of salt tolerance (inferior only to that of date palms) and to ferric chlorosis, characteristics that make them a highly appreciated fruit-bearing tree. The greatly expanding markets require greater research that addresses the critical issues of this crop and its agro-industrial chain, as well as the immediate transfer and dissemination of the knowledge and innovations as developed by the world of research.