Native spices get a new gene bank

The immense effort that goes into setting up a gene bank is such that it can be termed as a mission.

Published: 01st January 2018 01:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st January 2018 07:41 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: The immense effort that goes into setting up a gene bank is such that it can be termed as a mission. And when a group of farmers here came together to start one, it turned out to be a worthy venture. And ‘spicy’ too.

The Koorachundu Sugandhavila Karshaka Samithi realised it was high time they set up a gene bank to conserve the native varieties of spices, after they found that imported and hybrid varieties have become popular among farmers. They decided to begin with pepper and the Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), Moozhikkal, which got enthusiastic about the idea, decided to help the farmers collect a wide variety of local pepper plants.

Unlike the research institutes where spices are conserved in labs and experimental farms, the Samithi members will grow local varieties in their farms. As of now, the farmers are conserving 11 pepper varieties, including Arakulam Munda, Chomala, Pottanadan, Thulamundy, Kaniyakkadan and Nedumchola.

“The idea came up when we thought about the Western Ghats’ conservation and peaceful co-existence of farmers and wild animals,” said Samithi secretary P T Thomas.The Samithi, which began its gene-bank mission a month ago, plans to expand its basket to include clove, nutmeg, mace, cardamom and cinnamon in the coming days. It has 30 farmers, who own around 90 acres. Each farmer will collect a specific spice and grow it in his farm.

“Landraces of many crop plants are getting eroded due to a variety of reasons. Conservation of the landraces, which harbour many useful genes, is mostly a government effort. However, if people-participatory or farm conservation can be effected, it’ll help conserve landraces in their natural habitat,” said IISR’s crop improvement and biotechnology division head B Sasikumar.

The native varieties of pepper have the capacity to survive in the Western Ghats and can be cultivated at a low cost. Farmers can plant it under a jackfruit tree without the need for a support system, said Thomas. In contrast, imported and hybrid varieties need a proper support system.

The Samithi members are hopeful the gene bank will become fully functional in 18 months’ time. “The yield from native varieties can be an influential thing among farmers as the yield influences the farmer to decide whether to continue with the cultivation or not. However, at the Samithi, we’re planning to go forward without considering the yield from native varieties,” said Thomas.

Stay up to date on all the latest Kerala news with The New Indian Express App. Download now

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

IPL2018