|Authors: ||S.K. Dwivedi, Z. Ahmed|
|Keywords: ||antioxidant, arid, fruit, Hippophae, India, seabuckthorn, vitamin|
Seabuckthorn (Hippophae sp.), belonging to Elaeagnaceae, is a thorny, dioecious bush growing wild in the cold and dry regions of Indian Himalayas mainly in Ladakh (J&K), Lahaul- Spiti and Kinnaur (HP), Kumaon-Garhwal (Uttranchal) and Sikkim /Arunachal Pradesh in the North-East region.
The ripe fruits of seabuckthorn are a rich source of vitamins (A, B, C, and K&E) with antioxidant and anti stress properties.
The plant has medicinal and fodder value besides food and cosmetics properties.
However, no attention has been given towards the scientific conservation, propagation and utilization of this valuable plant.
Keeping the above in view, Field Research Laboratory (DRDO), located at an altitude of 11500 ft above the MSL, undertook several research and development projects on seabuckthorn from 1992 to promote cultivation and utilization of seabuckthorn for human welfare.
Satellite imaginary conducted to estimate the naturally growing areas of seabuckthorn had revealed 11,500 ha pure area of seabuckthorn in the Ladakh region.
However, the total area of seabuckthorn vegetation is around 30,000 ha in Ladakh.
Extensive explorations have been conducted to identify the promising genetic diversity in the crop in the region which has considerable variation in the physicochemical properties of the fruits.
Three promising selections have been made from the natural population and Field genmaile banks have been established to conserve this natural diversity.
In order to popularize scientific cultivation of this valuable plant, propagation through seeds, stem cuttings (using PBRs) and suckers, has been standardized.
Efforts are also in progress to develop the protocols for in vitro propagation of seabuckthorn.
Model seabuckthorn orchards have been established using different planting systems/distances and by maintaining proper male: female plant ratio.
The laboratory has developed and patented the process for preparation of nutritive beverage from seabuckthorn fruits which has been commercialized by private vendors and products are readily available in Indian market.
The process for preparation of other food products such as jam, pickle, puree, blended/spiced beverages, wine etc have also been developed and are in the process of being patented and commercialized.
The need of the hour is to standardize canopy/orchard management practices, post harvest management /value addition techniques, scientific method of harvesting and adopting modern breeding approaches for crop improvement of seabuckthorn to harness its food and medicinal properties for human welfare.
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