Marigold farmers strike gold with natural additive made from petals

Scientists invent a method of extracting lutein, a natural pigment with health benefits, from marigold flowers, offering a potential solution to the problem of unsold stock, a major concern of farmers; the feed additive has been proven to have beneficial effects in poultry sector

August 26, 2023 07:39 pm | Updated September 08, 2023 11:09 pm IST - RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM

DFR-Pune Director K.V. Prasad and Prof. Suhrita Chakrabarty during a demonstration on preparation of the natural additive from marigold flowers at Rajamahendravaram.

DFR-Pune Director K.V. Prasad and Prof. Suhrita Chakrabarty during a demonstration on preparation of the natural additive from marigold flowers at Rajamahendravaram. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Directorate of Floricultural Research (DFR-Pune) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research has claimed that a natural additive containing lutein, an organic pigment, has been successfully prepared with fresh marigold flower petals which could be used as feed by the poultry sector. 

Known as ‘eye vitamin’, lutein is an organic pigment called a carotenoid which is required for the good health of the eye’s retina.

An all-India coordinated research project being done by the DFR-Pune in collaboration with the Bidhan Chandra Krishna Viswavidyalaya (BCKV-West Bengal) has come up with a robust natural solution having huge commercial value to tackle the wastage of marigold flower produce in India.

Huge wastage

In 2021-22, Andhra Pradesh has produced nearly 300 tonnes of marigold flowers to become the fifth major marigold producer in India, according to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). Tamil Nadu is India’s leading marigold producer with an annual production of 500 tons (2021-22). However, the farmers are forced to dump the unsold flowers across the country.  

Professor Suhrita Chakrabarty of BCKV-West Bengal has claimed that an additive has been prepared with marigold flowers after fermenting them for 21 days in a pit. Later, they would be dried up to make a powder that can be used as feed in the poultry sector. One kilogram of the powder contains 120 grams of lutein.

“Our decade-long research has yielded the desired outcomes. In the poultries where the marigold feed additive was used, the yolk of the egg turned dark. This change is an indicator of the presence of more lutein. The eggs also have high protein content and less cholesterol,” said Prof. Suhrita.

The additive should be mixed proportionately in the regular feed used both in the backyard poultry as well as commercial poultry firms. 

“The additive is fat soluble. We have also prepared a protocol for its preparation and usage. In West Bengal, scores of flower farmers are involved in its production,” Prof. Suhrita added.

Training programme

The Floriculture Research Station (FRS-Vemagiri) conducted a training programme for poultry and floriculture farmers on the preparation of the feed additive on the campus of the Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI-Rajahmundry) recently. 

Addressing the participants, DFR-Pune Director K.V. Prasad said, “In Tamil Nadu, corporate firms have already entered into ‘contract farming’ with marigold farmers for preparation of pellets for the extraction of the natural pigment from marigold flowers. The feed additive and pellets are a few potential ways to tackle the wastage of marigold flowers and boost its demand.”

FRS Vemagiri principal scientists D.V.S. Raju, Ram Pal and scientists T. Sirisha and S. Madhavan were among those present.

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