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Drumstick bowls over Chinese

L.N. Revathy

Coimbatore , April 30

OF all horticultural produce, it is moringa (drumstick) that has caught the attention of the Chinese.

Keen to raise the plant in the province of Yunnan, a seven-member Chinese team took time off to visit places in the country to garner technical support.

Chinese Government officials, members from the department of forestry and biotechnology were part of the team, which was headed by Mr Lu Bin, Associate Professor, Research Institute of Economic Forest under Yunnan Academy of Forestry Sciences.

The interaction lasted for less than an hour with the professors of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, but the visiting team was determined to take the project forward. Probably, the delicacies prepared with drumstick as the main ingredient served along with tea and biscuits excited them most for Mr Bin caught the farm varsity professors by surprise when he asked, "We are ready. Can we sign the MoU?"

While expressing interest in the collaborative project, the Horticulture Dean, Dr E. Vadivel, said: "If you indicate the area, the kind of soil, your expectation on extension of technical support etc, we can work out the consultancy fee. If you are agreeable to it, we can move on."

The team members were obviously in a hurry to collaborate with TNAU. Mr Bin told Business Line: "In our country, we will have to get the Government nod for any collaborative programme. The Government funds the project. That is why we have roped in the Vice-Mayor of our province (Yunnan), Ms Zhang Keya, as a member in our team. She is convinced that drumstick would help to alleviate poverty in our province," Mr Bin said.

Yunnan Province, he said, was a hilly terrain. "We have walnut, chesternut, mulberry and valuable timber trees in that belt. Most of the produce is for domestic consumption. We are planning to use the drumstick tree leaf as fodder for cattle, the pods could be processed and taken as a tablet as it has medicinal properties. We also hear that the oil extract from the pod could be used in perfumery. Ultimately we are keen to tap the potential of every part of the drumstick tree," Mr Bin, said.

At this juncture, it is obvious that China is looking to collaborate with the farm varsity here for getting the propagation material, for technical support and in processing drumstick. Mr Bin, however, indicated that they would seek marketing support too at a later date, as drumstick preparation was still new to the Chinese.

During the experimental stage, drumstick would be cultivated in 100 hectares, he said and hinted about the team's keenness to initiate discussion on neem too.

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