Attempt to preserve: Mysore chiguru yele (betel vine) (left) and Mysore mallige (jasmine), indigenous varieties, may get a boost with the University of Horticultural Sciences planning to take up research to protect and preserve such varieties. — PHOTOS: M.A. SRIRAM
University of Horticultural Sciences ties up with farmers of the State to protect them
Karnataka's indigenous horticultural varieties and medicinal plants that are said to be on the verge of extinction may get a new lease of life as the University of Horticultural Sciences, Bagalkot, is joining hands with farmers of the State to protect and preserve the dying varieties by conducting research (primarily to address the diseases affecting the crops) and promoting their cultivation.
Already, the university has rolled out its agenda to conserve special horticultural crops such as ‘Nanjangud rasabale',
Mysore betel vine, ‘Rajapuri bale' (a plantain variety), ‘appe midi' (midi is tender mango in Kannada), which may slip into oblivion if immediate attention is not paid to conserve them.
With the support of the Department of Horticulture, the university is developing a network with farmers who are growing these varieties despite several problems, with the sole aim to boost their cultivation and establish a “repository of seeds” of such varieties.Disclosing this to The Hindu, University Vice-Chancellor S.B. Dandin said that six horticultural varieties that require immediate attention had been identified and accordingly the university will be taking steps to conserve them by working closely with farmers who, according to him, are the “custodians of biodiversity”.
According to Dr. Dandin, the varieties that are identified for conservation include Nanjangud rasabale; Rajapuri bale; a special variety of garlic and bitter gourd variety grown in Haveri district; ‘appe midi', a mango variety grown in Sirsi-Siddapur areas in Uttara Kannada; a chilli variety from North Karnataka region that is very spicy and a special betel leaf grown in Chikkodi area of Belgaum district. “Our scientists will study the areas where these varieties are grown and document them for their conservation.
Advice to farmers
The farmers in the areas are encouraged to boost their cultivation and preserve their seeds for saving indigenous biological wealth,” he explained.
The university's focus will be on spreading awareness about the varieties and conduct research on them for their conservation as farmers are switching to new crops, discontinuing cultivation of indigenous crops.
The horticulture colleges under the university will restrict their research to indigenous varieties that are closer to their jurisdictions, he said.
The newly-launched horticulture college at Kadakola near Mysore has set a vision to take up research to address the woes of farmers who have switched to cultivating other crops.
The area of cultivation under Nanjangud rasabale has not increased unlike other fruits as farmers get more returns and yield by cultivating yelakki and pacchbale, the other plantain varieties.
In the recent years, most farmers in villages where the cultivation of rasabale had been widespread had stopped cultivating it owing to various reasons such as the crop being affected by Panama disease.
However, efforts are being made to popularise rasabale by providing subsidy and recommending cultivation through organic methods and drip irrigation to ensure disease-free crops and high yield. Dr. Dandin said that the college has been focusing on evolving strategies to conserve indigenous varieties like rasabale, Mysore chiguru yele (betel vine), turmeric, Mysore mallige (known for its distinctive fragrance) and Eranagere brinjal (a thin long variety grown at Eranagere village).
The Vice-Chancellor said that the university has taken up studies of the rare varieties of medicinal plants at Biligiri Ranganana hills in Chamarajnagar district and is working closely with tribals and other government agencies to document them for their conservation.
“We have joined hands with a tribal family which has vast knowledge of medicinal plants,” he disclosed.
- Six such varieties identified for conservation on priority
- A ‘repository of seeds' of rare horticultural crops to come up