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Nonetheless, with study, these problems can probably be overcome, or at least mitigated. Then the taste of naranjilla should become known to millions.

PROSPECTS

The Andes. Although now in decline, the naranjilla could become one of the major horticultural products of the region and an important market crop for small-scale producers. The fruit or juice (canned, frozen, or concentrated) has considerable export potential.4 What is needed is a coordinated effort to fully understand the crop's status and difficulties.

Nematocides and biological controls are currently available to forestall the devastation caused by root-knot nematodes. In addition, at least two closely related species, apparently highly resistant to the root-knot nematode, seem promising as rootstocks. They may also be sources of genetic resistance, for they form fertile hybrids with naranjilla.

Other Developing Areas. With the increasing international demand for exotic fruits, this is a budding crop for the uplands of Central America and for other areas of similar climate. Already, naranjilla has been established as a small-scale crop in Panama, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Both there and in other frost-free, subtropical sites, it promises to become a substantial resource. However, because of the plant's restrictive climatic and agronomic requirements, success will not be achieved easily. Establishing naranjilla in commercial production will require much work and dedication.

Industrialized Regions. Naranjilla can provide the basis for a new fruit-drink flavor that could become popular in North America, Japan, Europe, and other such areas. In a test at Cornell University several years ago, blindfolded panelists unfamiliar with the fruit chose naranjilla juice over apple juice by three to one, and a blend of naranjilla and apple juice over apple juice alone by nine to one. In the 1970s, a major U.S. soup manufacturer created a fruit drink based on naranjilla for nationwide sale, but it reluctantly abandoned the project because of problems in producing a large and reliable supply of fruit.


4 Colombia is already exporting small amounts to Central America and the United States.


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