One of East-West Seed’s hybrid superstars, our crop innovations with bittergourd started back in 1986. There was great potential for such a high-input, high-priced crop as a profitable source of income for farmers. The most ‘bitter’ tasting vegetable and popular for its unique taste and many medicinal qualities, the bitter gourd was perfect for hybrid development.
Originally of African and Asian origin, bitter gourd is now grown widely across India, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. East-West Seed has transformed a tentative semi-commercial crop into a major commercial crop in the tropical regions.
Crop Breeding Manager
“Proud that my bitter gourd innovations have proven popular among farmers.”
When Lamai joined the company 23 years ago, the bitter gourd on the market was still the open-pollinated variety. She was an integral part of launching the first superstar hybrid of the company, a variety named Sae Yid: “a uniform variety, great for the farmers of the time.”
Since then, we’ve continued to push for breakthroughs in stronger cultivars with a greater tolerance to diseases—sales of which skyrocketed for farmers at the market.
Lamai says “I’m proud that my bitter gourd innovations have proven popular for the farmers, selling quickly on the market to consumers”—all because of the consistent quality of the varieties.
She believes the future of the bitter gourd lies in finding new variations in smaller sizes—great for small family consumers—and “a bitter gourd that is less bitter, too!” Our breeders are committed to realizing a variety’s limitations and working on improvements. Part of this plan is developing bitter gourd plants to “thrive in the greenhouse environment where they will be protected from disease and insects.” This is especially important as more farmers are growing their crops in greenhouses within the regions. The other part is to breed for more colour variations: lighter and darker shades of green, and the white fruit colour which is so attractive to consumers.