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| Last Updated:: 13/01/2017

70 local plants give hope for food security - Experts








Visakhapatnam: There are more than 70 local natural and wild plant species fast vanishing from the natural forests of north-coastal AP that, if replanted, can ensure food security in the region, said research experts from Andhra University.



In a paper published in 2015 named "Native Wild Plant Species for Food Security", four research scholars from Andhra University -- S Satyavani, K Satyavathi, Devi Soundarya and S Padai from the department of botany --said there was scope for commercial exploitation of these varieties as well.



"We need to look beyond the established standards to promote food security for which we need to know other sources of food traditionally available," said Aluri Jacob Solomon Raju, professor in AU botany and environment sciences department who specialised in plant species of north coastal AP.



"This was something that was known to people for at least 120 years. A lot of research was conducted by early European botanists in the 19th century in the region. They had listed all the traditional varieties of trees, vines and shrubs that could help deal with the issues of food security," said KN Sarma, an expert on indigenous species and former soil scientist.



Sarma said in the present age where commuting and storage is not a problem, a huge agro-industry can come up in north-coastal AP based on these species.



The researchers said a healthy and wholesome diet can be possible just by sticking to these species, which include fruit, pulses, seeds, grain, vegetables and mineral rich herbs.



Sarma said so far no government has taken the right approach to food security. "Take rice for example. We could harvest rice varieties such as Siri rice, which are not heavily dependent on water and are less susceptible to pest attack," he pointed out.





PS Vani, a dietician, pointed out that a lot of health issues prop up because we no longer consume a wholesome diet. "Consumption of locally available seasonal fruits has come down drastically. More importantly the heavy dependence on just one type of grain has made our diet quite unwholesome," she said.





Agriculturalist Emani Raman said, "Most of these plant species can be grown in mixed plantations and orchards. Some of those with exceptional health benefits can also be marketed in urban areas and this can generate a lot of revenue for farmers." Raman said there were a few agriculture experts who have taken up re-planting of certain species in the plains.





"This trend has just caught up in the divisions south of Anakapalli and a number of NGOs are involved in promoting these varieties with the help of central and state government agencies," Raman said.





An NGO LAYA, which had done extensive research in native species especially in the East Godavari agency area, has come up with a herbal plantation-cum-nursery to promote naturopathy. They even run a naturopathy clinic in Addataeegala.








Source: The Times of India