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Chikoos or Sapota is scientifically known as Manilkara zapota and belongs to the family Sapotaceae.
Sapota is believed to have be originated in South America. In, India Sapota is mainly grown for the fruit, but in Mexico, Guatemala and other countries it is grown for a gum-like substance called chickle which is used to make chewing gum.
Around 20 varieties of Sapota is grown in India. Main varieties among them are Cricket ball, Kalipatti, Calcutta round etc. Almost all of India's produce is consumed domestically and only a little, which is estimated to be less than half a percent is exported.
There are two seasons for sapota in India, mainly January to February and May to July. Sapotas have to be ripened artificially. Sapotas are rich in Vitamin A, B, C and minerals such as Copper, Niacin, Iron, Calcium and Phosphorous.
Sapota is a warm crop, so it can be planted in any season with good irrigation. Deep alluvial, sandy loam and well drained medium black soil is best for Sapota cultivation.
Sapota starts flowering from the third year of planting, but the yield can be commercially viable only from the fifth year of planting. October to November and February to March are the two main flowering seasons of Sapota in India. Sapota fruit takes four months to mature.
Major Sapota producing states in India are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Top Sapota producing countries are India, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mexico, Venezuela and Guatemala.
Singapore is the top Sapota exporting country. India is also one of the main exporters of Sapota.
Major Sapota importing countries are Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Hong Kong, Singapore, Qatar, Canada and Kuwait.
Following are the local markets for Chikoos in India
Gujarat (Ahmedabad, Navsari, Vadodara)
Maharashtra (Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur)