Loofah From Patola A Good Source of Livelihood

Patola or sponge gourd are produced by some farmers for vegetable consumption while others allow it to mature on the vines for few more months before harvesting, to make it ready in processing for its fiber known as loofah.

Loofah is most useful as bath sponge or scrubbing pad which is claimed to effectively cleansed and remove dead outer cells of the skin while stimulating blood circulation.

This is why it is increasingly becoming popular among those who prefer to use bath sponge made from natural materials like loofah from patola.

It can likewise be cut into various sizes for scrubbing and cleaning of kitchen wares and other household items. It can also be used as a fiber mat.

To produce loofah, patola is stripped of its pulp, skin and seeds, then bleached and sun dried to produce loofah. There are two edible species commonly raised by farmers, one is the cylindrical variety (luffah cylindrica) and the other angular variety (luffah acutangular).

The former is ideal for making loofah. It produces 20 to 60 centimeters (8 to 24 inches) long of oblong fruits. One fruit can make two pieces of shorter loofah which can be sold 40 cents (US$0.40) or 80 cents (US $0.80) for the whole loofah.

For loofah purposes, cropping season of patola runs up to seven months after planting before it can be harvested. One can harvest an average of 37,000 pieces of mature patola per hectare or an average income of US $20,000 per hectare.

During the fruiting stage, to make patola fiber thicker, an application of complete fertilizer (14-14-14) is recommended. Fruit fly is the destructive pest known for patola but it can be controlled by organic pesticide application.

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