Port Blair, July 10: The islands are home to a large number of flora of diverse values. Underutilized fruits are amongst the most important components which help in assuring nutritional and livelihood security of the settler communities and native tribes of these islands. A number of species, however, are presently facing threats from manmade and natural calamities, and their conservation is required for maintaining balance in this fragile ecosystem. Popularization of these plants in backyard can not only help in their conservation but also help the farmers in fetching additional benefits.
Sensing the importance of these species, ICAR-Central Island Agricultural Research Institute has established a small scale nursery for multiplication of selected important species for sale to the interested famers and other stakeholders. Currently, plants of twelve endemic/ native species including orange cow phal, black cow phal, Burmaphal, red cow phal, Andaman Kokum, blood fruit (raktaphal), khattaphal etc. are available. All these species are perennial and grow as trees, so could be planted in the backyards. Further, most of them can tolerate various degrees of shades and could be effectively grown as intercrops in the existing coconut gardens for getting additional benefits.
Additionally, West Indian cherry, which is one of the richest sources of vitamin C is also available. This species can be easily grown as hedge or as a potted plant. Plants of Malabar tamarind, popularly known as kodampuli in Southern India are also available. For further details, kindly contact Dr. Pooja Bohra (9933263442) or Dr. Ajit Waman (9933263441). The nursery has been developed under the guidance of Dr. B.A. Jerard, Head, Division of Horticulture and Forestry and Dr. A. Kundu, Director (Acting), ICAR-CIARI, Port Blair.