COIMBATORE: While State authorities and voluntary organisations in Tamil Nadu are trying to eliminate Seemai Karuvelam (Prosopis juliflora), scientists at the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI) in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, have found a way to control the uncontrolled spread of this invasive species.
At the CAZRI, the shrub’s pods, together with the seeds, are ground and mixed with feed given to lactating cattle. This make the feed balanced and lowers its price considerably, while incresing milk production by 10 per cent, said B K Mathur, Head, Livestock Production Systems and Range Management Division, Central Arid Zone Research Institute .
“We grind the pods and mix up to 25 per cent of it with fodder. Added along with it are seed-cakes of tumba and til, guar korma, wheat bran, maize, salt and mineral mixture. Since much of the seeds get used for feed, not many are left to germinate,” he said.
While tumba (Cucumis colocynthis) is Kattuvellari in Tamil, til (sesame) is Ellu and guar (cluster bean) is Kothavaranga.
The hardy, drought-tolerant Seemai Karuvelam was introduced in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu in the 1960s to be used as firewood. But now it has become a threat to the environment as it draws a lot of water.
In Tamil Nadu also, Prosopis pods are eaten by goats and cattle, but the seeds get excreted with the dung,” said Tamil Nadu Agricultural University Vice Chancellor A Ramasamy.
As the seeds don’t get digested, they germinate after the animals excrete them.
“We have not tried crushing the pods and seeds and adding it to cattle feed. But once crushed, it will not germinate” he added.
Recently, the High Court had ordered the State government to initiate steps to eradicate Seemai Karuvelam in response to a public interest litigation filed by MDMK leader Vaiko.