Khejri (Prosopis cineraria) research for horticultural harnessing and environmental services: an appraisal
Keywords:Khejri, Prosopis cineraria, Tender pods - Sangri, Panchkuta vegetable, Horticultural quality, Thar Desert, Hot arid environment
Dry-land agriculture has enormous potential in ensuring nutritious food to the inhabitants and eco-restoration. Khejri (Prosopis cineraria) is a life-line tree of the Thar Desert. It is the most important component of the traditional farming systems of arid and semi-arid region of the north-western part of India. It tolerates extreme edapho-climatic conditions with lush-green foliage and bears fruits that too during the driest period. Its nutritious leaf-fodder (loong) and tender pods (sangri) used extensively. Sangri is sold fresh and dehydrated at high price, and it is the main constituent of Panchkutta vegetable cooking. Prior to CIAH - Khejri Technology, the rural people used to collect tender pods from the natural seedling trees and there was no quality standard for it. For horticultural exploitation, a series of technological advancements have been made at ICAR-CIAH and first-time recommended are patch-budding for vegetative propagation for conservation of the elite genotypes and mass-multiplication of true-to-type plants in the nursery, in-situ orchard establishment by bud-grafting, induction of thornlessness in plants, variety-Thar Shobha, crop-regulation to harvest both sangri and loong annually, on-farm value-addition and diversified crop-combination models adopting HBCPSMA concept such as Organic Panchkuta, native, multi-purpose and intensive production. Based on crop-commodity potentialities, khejri planting models viz., KM–1, KM–3, KM–7, KM–9 and KM–11 exhibited tremendous scope for desert horticultural promotion and agro-ecological prosperity.
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