Blessed with the abundant crop of Salicornia, a plant that grows in salty marshes in the mangrove wetlands, the State government has intensified the efforts to tap commercial benefits from the plant through cultivation as well as extraction of the substitute to salt with low sodium content.
Recently, the State government has documented the presence of the Salicornia along the coastline of Krishna district, exploring the possibilities to extract the salt substitute through various methods.
“In principle, the experts at the Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI), Gujarat, have expressed consent to provide all the scientific and technical support for cultivation and preparation of the salt substitute from the Salicornia. The CSMCRI experts will be roped in the project to adopt better eco and scientific methods,” a State government official associated with the project told The Hindu . In Krishna district, the Salicornia plant is being grown naturally along the coastal belt wherever the mangrove wetland is surviving. Majority of the Salicornia fields are falling in the reserve mangrove forest under the State Forest Department, necessitating the need of approval from the forest authorities for cultivation and procurement of the plant.
“The State government’s idea is to constitute eco-development committees through which the cultivation and procurement will be done without any disturbance to the existing land pattern. The area, including Machilipatnam and Nagayalanka mangrove covers, is blessed with the abundant quantity of Salicornia that is left unexplored commercially,” added the official on condition of anonymity.
Imports from Israel
According to the State government’s preliminary investigation, eight tonnes of yield can be expected per acre and finally the salt of one tonne could be extracted following the drying and other processes. The cost of cultivation of the plant per acre is ₹15,000 and profits are expected to be nearly ₹20,000. The plants are in good demand in the Indian cities, where it is being served as the salad. The Salicornia is being imported from Israel and Scandinavian countries in the wake of growing demand for it in Indian cities. The patients suffering from hypertension, diabetes and gastric related ailments prefer the Salicornia salad and salt. However, the production of the salt substitute has come down drastically in Gujarat with the scarcity of the Salicornia. The CSMCRI experts are likely to inspect the fields in Krishna district in August.