AROMATIC AND MEDICINAL PLANTS RESEARCH STATION, ODAKKALI
Major research achievements
The Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station, Odakkali of KAU is recognised as the largest genetic biodiversity conservation centres in the world on lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) with 450 accessions. These accessions have been described and catalogued. OD 19 (Sugandhi) variety released by KAU is the most popular and nationally accepted lemongrass variety. The accessions are being further evaluated for better yield and quality and several superior types are in the pipeline. Chemotypical evaluation of these accessions has resulted in the identification of an alternative source of geraniol (60 –70%) in the accession OD 455 (Cymbopogon parkeri) and the isolation of the richest natural source of geranyl acetate – a high grade perfumery compound, from the accession OD 468 (Cymbopogon gidarba). A high citral content accession, OD-23 is in the process of release. ‘Thathimalangatha’ is a geraniol rich lemongrass accession identified by this station for industrial isolation of the chemical. Two types of grasses which contain high geranyl acetate have also been identified.
Germplasm of palmarosa, vetiver, citronella, kacholam and Piper longum are also maintained at this station. ODP 1 (Amaravathi) and ODP2 (Haldwani) selections of palmarosa, ODV 3 (Nilambur) selection of vetiver are better types isolated from the respective germplasm which are popular among cultivators on an All India basis. Two hundred and fifty accessions of cinnamon are maintained here. Sugandhini (ODC-130) is a eugenol-rich leaf oil yielding cinnamon variety with a leaf oil yield of 300 ml/tree/yr, oil recovery 1.6% on fresh weight basis (3.7% on dry weight basis) and eugenol 94%.
Selection, poly-cross breeding, hybridisation and mutation breeding have been tried in lemongrass and palmarosa. Potential strains have been evolved and are in various stages of development.
The station is involved in the development of Agrotechnology for various Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, which were hither to grown wild. Optimum seed rate, viability of seeds, planting density, methods of planting, fertilizers and manuring practices, nutrient uptake and requirement, weed control measures, nursery techniques, harvesting stage and techniques, post-harvest handling requirement etc. of many aromatic and medicinal plants have been standardised.
The distillation and oil extraction technology of various aromatic plants involving design of equipment, duration of distillation, optimum steam requirement, pre-distillation treatment of materials, storage and handling of essential oils etc. have been studied in detail and procedures standardised.
Quality evaluation procedures in line with international quality requirement have been laid out in selected essential oil crops. The Regional Analytical Laboratory is an approved quality control laboratory established with the financial support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India. Identification of active principles in selected medicinal plants and standardisation of quality testing procedures are being undertaken in the laboratory. Over and above, the Kerala Agricultural University and Kerala state and different national and inter-national agencies like Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Indian Council of Agricultural Research etc. are providing financial support for the various research and development activities of this Institution.
This station is a post-graduate research centre of KAU. PG students from other universities also avail the research and library facilities here for research and development of aromatic and medicinal plants. .
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India has identified this station for conservation, maintenance and to do research on 8 tree species among the different endangered species identified.
A sub-surface dyke constructed with the support of SIDA for the conservation and utilisation of ground water is a unique feature of this station. It is a living example for ground water conservation technology for mid-lands and for water-shed management. The success story of the sub-surface dyke has demonstrated that it is one of the most feasible methods for the conservation and exploitation of the ground water resources of the state. Besides a roof-water harvesting model has also been demonstrated at the centre.
This station has an Information and Sales Centre for large-scale production and distribution of quality planting materials of M&AP in the state and caters to the needs of cultivators all over the country. KAU products and publications are also available here. An Agri-clinic is also functioning as a part of the ISC for solving the problems faced by cultivators.
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