Mulberries to have the highest development potential in Central Asian berry sector
The fruit and vegetable retail trade monitoring conducted by East-Fruit.com in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in May-June 2018 showed that mulberries were the most popular and affordable berry category for local consumers there.
Retail prices of mulberries ranged between $0.75-1.00/kg. Thus, they were the least expensive berries in the two countries, as prices of standard-quality cherries were 50-70% higher, and raspberries and strawberries were 2-3 times as expensive as mulberries. Black mulberries accounted for the largest part of supply, but white varieties were also available.
It is worth mentioning that there are no exact data on global areas under mulberries. Some experts assess them at about 10 mln ha, which, however, is far from adequate estimations. In particular, areas under mulberries total 626,000 ha and 280,000 ha in China and India. The two countries are considered the global leaders in mulberry areas and production.
Mulberries are mainly utilized for feed for silkmoths. They are also consumed fresh or utilized for manufacturing jams and juices in the Central Asia and Middle East. Mulberries are as well cultivated in Ukraine and Russia by amateur growers mainly. In the USA, they are used in landscape gardening.
Mulberry growers can find their development potential in growing mulberry herbage as a livestock feed, which could be especially interesting in tropical countries with goat and sheep feed quality issues. Scientists rate mulberry leaves highly thanks to their essential nutrient and mineral profile.
Manufacturers have recently started using mulberry leaves in pharmacology and dietology, and Central Asia used them as a food ingredient and traditional medicine element long ago.
Nevertheless, industrial cultivation of mulberries is still difficult due to relatively large height of mulberry trees and problems with berry harvesting. In addition, mulberry transportability is too low, and losses could be relatively high. However, taking into account positive feedback from consumers, it may well happen that we will see dwarf types of mulberry trees with transportable fruits for industrial horticulture in the nearest time. As of today, there are thousands of mulberry varieties in the world; therefore, scientists can select the most appropriate ones for their further development.