Study on gingers fetches Vasudev award for teacher

A study on the use of gingers and their wild relatives by tribal communities has won an assistant professor the Dr. S. Vasudev Award - 2020 at the 33rd Kerala Science Congress organised by the Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment (KSCSTE).

The study by Thomas V.P., Assistant Professor, Department of Botany, Catholicate College, Pathanamthitta, covered 33 tribal communities in 168 locations in Kerala and documented the use of 28 ginger species and their wild cousins in food, traditional medicine, fodder and religion.

The project ‘Ethnobiological studies on Zingiberaceae of Kerala’ covered both the cultivated economically important ginger varieties and the wild ones used among tribal populations. “Gingers, especially turmeric (Curcuma longa) which belongs to the family Zingiberaceae, find extensive use among the tribal communities,” Mr. Thomas said.

“I’ve been researching the family Zingiberaceae for some time now. In fact, my doctoral thesis was on gingers. Furthermore, the present study held the promise of being useful to society,” he said.

He gave the credit to his teacher M. Sabu, former head, Department of Botany, University of Calicut, for piquing his interest in gingers.

Mr. Thomas received the three-year project under the Science Research Scheme of the KSCSTE. In fact, the Dr. S. Vasudev Award, which commemorates a former chairman of the Science, Technology and Environment Committee (STEC), goes to the best project completed under the Science Research Scheme.

Germplasm facility

The ginger project also threw up some botanically significant surprises. It helped pinpoint three new wild relatives of large cardamom and two synonyms during the course of his work. A germplasm conservatory for gingers was established at the Catholicate College botanical garden.

“Without the support of co-investigators, research scholars, teachers, scientists at other research institutes, and of course the tribal communities, the study would not have been possible,” he said.

The study findings made it to 11 scientific conferences and 12 papers were published in national and international journals. Over 2,500 planting material of economically important ginger varieties were distributed to students and the public for propagation.

Mr. Thomas, who joined Catholicate College in 2014, hails from Pathanamthitta.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 7:25:41 PM |

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