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| Last Updated:20/11/2018

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Citronella is not for consumption while lemongrass is herbal tea: Dr. Huidrom Birkumar

 Source: Imphal Free Press.

IMPHAL| Nov 1

Citronella is often blended with tea instead of lemongrass and people should be aware that amongst the two aromatic plants, the former is not for consumption while the latter is known as herbal tea, said principal scientist, CSIR-NEIST, Dr. Huidrom Birkumar. He was speaking at the inaugural function of ‘Training Programme on Cultivation and Processing of High-Yielding Lemongrass and Citronella’ at CSIR-North East Institute of Scientist and Technology, Lamphelpat. He advised people not to get confused with the two plants as citronella (Cymbopogon Nardus) and lemongrass (Cymbopogon Citratus) are cousins belonging to the same species. They look similar and grow the same way and are processed in the same manner too, however both have different properties, he added. “Citronella oil is used in manufacturing mosquito repellents, perfumes, soaps and deodorants among other toiletries, whereas lemongrass can be used as herbal tea. It smells like lemon, but it taste milder and sweeter. Lemongrass has citral ingredient which has antimicrobial qualities but citronella may prove to be harmful for consumption in long run,” said Birkumar. People can easily indentify the two plants by their leaves. Citronella leaves are broad while lemongrass leaves are small though both grow till 5-6 feet high, he said. The climatic condition of Manipur is conducive in cultivation of these aromatic plants like Assam and planting citronella around vegetable garden can prevent and protect from insects, he added. “Economically, lemongrass that cost Rs.45,000 per year in cultivation has a gross return of Rs.70,000 to Rs.90,000 per year with net profit is Rs.25,000 to 45,000 per year. On other hand, Citronella can earn Rs.75,000 to Rs.90,000 per year with cost of cultivation of Rs.45,000 per year,” he explained. He also announced the target of the scheme covering 500 hectare by providing high yielding variety seedling at free of cost to all trained farmers and to selected barren land in the districts of Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, Chandel, Keithelmanbi, Ukhrul.  Anyone who wants to take scheme can approach for it, he added. As per marketing strategies, plantation of the two aromatic plants can generate income in short period of time, said Birkumar. Speaking at the inaugural function, retired IAS, RK Nimai said, “We think that at Manipur agro-forestry product is only way of business but the production do not fulfil the excessive demand. Small units which have opened at different places are not able to supply in large extension. If the policy is given back up by the government than farmer can get advantage.” Talking about organic farming, he stated that government has a target to replace inorganic fertilizers with organic ones although the use of inorganic fertilizers is still not lowering. He continued that producing products should be standardised and quality should be improved. So such kind of training programme will give benefit to the farmers both in production and income generation, he added. The inaugural function was also attended by AYUSH director, A Guneshor Sharma, professor of department of Life Science, MU, P. Kumar, scientist of CSIR-NEIST, Jorhat, Assam, Dr. Mohan Lal.