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The ‘Guar’ plant 'Cyamopsis Tetragonalobus' is an annual plant. The legume is an important source of nutrition to animals and humans, it regenerates soil nitrogen and the endosperm of Guar seed is an important hydrocolloid widely used across a broad spectrum of industries.
The 'Guar' legume plant is extremely drought resistant and thrives in semiarid regions where most plants perish. It grows best in sandy soils and areas of West, Northwest India and parts of Pakistan.
Once upon a time, 'Guar' was used as a protein rich cattle feed. In India, the tender green Guar is also used as a vegetable and cattle feed. A severe locust bean gum shortage, just after the Second World War, adversely affected the paper and textile industries.
Guar Gum was found to be the most suitable substitute for scarce locust bean gum. The technology of Guar Gum extraction was commercialized in 1953 in the USA and after approximately a decade in India.
The Guar seed consists of three parts: the germ, the endosperm, and the husk. It is from the endosperm that Guar Gum is derived. A 100 kilo of beans, minus their bean pods yields roughly 29 kilos of endosperm; 29 kilos of Guar powder.
Industrially it is used in mining, petroleum drilling and textile manufacturing. In food it is used as a thickener and as a mean of preventing ice crystal formation in frozen desserts.
Jodhpur City in the north western state of Rajasthan in India is the most ideal and important processing centre of Guar Gum and contributes approximately 40% of the worlds' Guar Gum supply.
Guar requires reasonably warm weather and a growing season of 14 to 16 weeks. It needs moderate intermittent rainfall with plenty of sunshine. Too much precipitation can cause the plant to become more 'leafy', thereby reducing the number of pods and/or the number of seeds per pod which affects the size and yield of seeds.
The crop is generally sown after the monsoon rainfall in the second half of July to early August and is harvested in late October early November. The Guar is a naturally rain fed crop and the total size of Guar crop varies from year to year depending on the monsoon rainfall.
After harvesting, when the pods become dry through sunlight, they are beaten off and during this process, the seeds come out of the pods.
India is the major producer of Guar Seed followed by Pakistan and US. India's production fluctuates between years and has been around 2-6 lakh tons in the recent years, accounting for 80% of the total guar produced in the world.
Around 70% of India's production comes from Rajasthan. The other producers are Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.