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India to boost noni cultivation

By Stephen Daniells , 14-Aug-2008

The Indian National Bank for Rural and Agriculture Development (Nabard) is forming a farmers’ club to promote the cultivation of noni, according to reports.

Noni juice comes from the fruit commonly known as 'noni'. But it is also known as 'Indian Mulberry' and 'nonu'. It is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia and to have been distributed subsequently by ancient voyagers or other means into the Pacific islands, including Tahiti and Hawaii.

Today, it is one of a number of antioxidant fruits, including pomegranate, guarana, mangosteen, goji berries and blueberries, which are increasingly seen by food and beverage makers as up and coming ingredients.

Demand for noni and other ‘super fruits’ is on the rise, and the move by Nabard looks to tap into this.

According to reports in The Telegraph – Calcutta, K.C. Shashidhar, the chief general manager of Nabard in Jharkhand region, said: “The bank wants to introduce and promote new trends in agriculture and allied practices in Jharkhand. We want to begin this task with noni plantation.”

Grants will be given to interested farmers’ groups, in addition to assisting them with scientific knowledge about the new plant, Shashidhar is quoted by The Telegraph –Calcutta.

According to the reports, industrial cultivation and processing of noni in India is only done in the Tamil Nadu region. Farmers from Jharkhand could soon join them, and benefit from cultivation of the fruit for production of a concentrate that is sold for a relatively high price of € 2.43 (Rs 156) per 100 ml.

European novel foods

Noni juice, from the fruit of the Morinda citrifolia L. plant was authorised for sale in the European Union under novel foods legislation, but case reports have continued to surface claiming adverse events after consumption of the juice. These have not stood up to scientific review (Journal of Food Science, Vol. 71, pp. R100-R105).

Europe's novel foods regulation (EC No 258/97) was introduced in 1997 and requires any food not commonly consumed in the EU prior to May 1997 to undergo rigorous safety assessment before it can be brought to market.

No safety concerns

Researchers from Tahitian Noni International in collaboration with the University Medical School of Hamburgs Department of Toxicology, reviewed data from animal studies on toxicology, allergenicity and genotoxicity, and human clinical safety studies. Case reports of adverse events were also analysed.

Case reports of potential adverse effects of the juice were described as "disparate" by the reviewers, and, due to confounding factors such as other ingredients in the juice, and people also taking Chinese herbs or prescription drugs, could not establish a direct link between noni juice consumption and potential harm.

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