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Davana: developing domestic demand desirable

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HIGH PRICE: Oil content is maximum in the flower head than in the leaf and stem.
HIGH PRICE: Oil content is maximum in the flower head than in the leaf and stem.

M.J. PRABU

The price of the oil entirely depends on export demand

DAVANA is an important aromatic plant of South India mostly cultivated for its leaves and flowers in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.It is called as Davanam in Tamil, Davanamu in Telugu and Davana in Kannada.In India, davana oil has not attained popularity because of its high price. Annually, about 2 tonnes of davana oil is produced in India in about 500 acres.

Quality production

The oil produced in these areas of South India is exported mainly to western countries. Researchers at the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAPS) in Lucknow have developed improved technologies for production of quality davana oil in this region. At present there is a well-developed contract farming system between farmers and the distillers/buyers, according to the researchers.

Oil uses

The leaves and flowers of the plant yield oil called davana oil, which is used in the manufacture of perfumes, cosmetics, food industries, flavouring tobacco and some beverages. The crop grows well in red and loamy soils. Being a transplantable crop, it takes 3-4 months to come to harvest. Light rainfall helps in good plant growth but the crop cannot withstand heavy rains, particularly when the crop is ready for harvest.The crop is grown for two purposes, for making garlands and for extracting oil. The crop can be pulled from the field during its second or third month after planting for making garlands. But, when it is cultivated for its oil, it should be allowed to grow till it bears flowers. The herb is propagated by seeds. About 0.5 kg of seeds is required for an acre. The seeds are first sown in 2x1 metre nursery beds during October- November. Usually pre-germinated seeds are sown in the nursery beds. The nursery beds are mixed well with 10 kg of farmyard manure/bed of 200 sqm area.

Main field

After five weeks the seedlings are transplanted to the main field. The main field is prepared well by mixing about 3 tonnes of well decomposed farmyard manure (FYM) and 16 kg each of phosphorus (P) and potash (K). The seedlings are then planted at a distance of about 15 x 7.5 cm. Nitrogen (N) is applied in two equal doses at 30kg per acre, according to the research team.

Harvesting tonnage

About 5-6 tonnes of fresh herbage can be harvested per acre, which under shade drying, reduces to 2-3 tonnes of wilted material. On distillation, it yields 4-5 kg of oil.Oil content in davana is maximum in the flower head and is much less in the leaf and stem. Farmers are paid Rs.3,000-3,500 per tonne of fresh davana herb.

Initial investment

For growing in one acre, an initial investment of Rs.11,000 is required. In about 4 months, a net return of Rs.7,000 can be expected through production of the herb. If distilled, an additional profit of Rs.6,500 can be obtained from an acre.The oil is priced at Rs.6000-7000 per kg. Since there is no domestic market for the oil, the price of davana oil depends entirely on export demand, the researchers noted.Thus it is advisable for farmers to plan well in advance how much oil to produce in a given year. Otherwise, there can be over or under production, which may create hardship to farmers.For more information readers can contact: The Director, Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Kukrail Picnic Spot Road, Lucknow-226 015, email: director@cimap.res.in, phone: 0522-2359625.


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