Rubber plantations open up for cultivation of herbs

Scheme to promote intercropping of medicinal plants with the support of Ayurveda companies

Aimed at augmenting the income of those growing natural rubber, the Rubber Board has embarked on a scheme to promote intercropping of medicinal plants in rubber plantations with the support of Ayurveda companies.

Officials said here recently that the programme was launched on a pilot basis in association with the Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala on the rubber estates in Malappuram . The Ayurveda company has executed a memorandum of understanding in this regard with the Rubber Producers Societies (RPS), which also includes a buy-back arrangement for harvested produce at a rate fixed in advance.

Though the practice of intercropping has not yet flourished on a large scale, probably due to lack of awareness and technical inputs, experiments conducted at some locations over the past two years have yielded good results. “The area of intercropping, currently being held in 10 acres of land, is being scaled up based on response. More Ayurveda companies have come up expressing interest in the scheme while consultations are also on with the State Medicinal Plant Board to get subsidies for growers,” said an official.

Under the project, the Rubber Board plans a sequential intercropping of medicinal plants by taking into account the availability of land and sunshine. It helps increase yields by doubling up on available growing space, thus ensuring better returns than mono-cropping.

During the initial two to three years of the rubber plantation cycle, plants that require sunlight will be cultivated, followed by those growing in partial shade during the next three years. In mature plantations, shade-tolerant varieties such as Karimkurinji, Atalodakam and Chuvannakoduveli can be grown.

As part of the initiative, the Rubber Research Institute of India has also initiated a programme to generate quality planting materials of endangered medicinal plants using biotechnological tools.

Source: Read Full Article