DERGAON, Feb 9 � �More than 25 lakh tonnes of different varieties of spices are produced annually in India. The cost of such spices in the Indian market is about Rs 7,500 crore and the nation with nearly 25-30% of total spice production ranks third in the world. Nine varieties of spices like pepper, ginger, clove, cinnamon (dalchini), Chinese cassia, nutmeg, mace (Aril), Allspice (Piminta) and cardamom produced in India have captured about 90% of the spice market of the globe. The USA imports most of the spices from India.� This was stated by noted researcher in Botany specially in spices as well as an associate professor of Botany at Darrang College, Dr Akhil Barua.
In an exclusive interview, Dr Barua told this correspondent that he is presently busy with the promotion of the commercial production of a special cinnamon (Cinnamomum pauciflorum) in the State. Narrating the speciality of the variety, Barua opined that during his doctoral research, he and his guide found that the while the bark of the tree is used widely by the tribal people of Meghalaya, but after studies it was found that cinnamon is adequately found also in the leaves and the roots. Later it was verified that the essential ingredient of cinnamon, Cinnamaldehyde is found in leaves (94%) while the percentage is 85 and 92 in the barks and roots respectively. So the main ingredient is much more in the leaves and the roots than in the bark. So the commercial production of the variety is profitable and easy like tea plantation. The evergreen tree is upto 10-15 feet height and has beautiful canopy. It is also used as medicinal plant. The researcher also hoped that with large scale production of this variety, the State as well as the country can jump to a higher position in spices production.
The researcher with financial assistance has established a Spice Museum (2007) and an Orchid House (2012) at Darrang College. With ten books on Botany to his credit, he has also published 105 research papers in various national and international journals. The only book on spices in Assamese Mosolar Katha written by him was published by Mouchaq Prakashan. The book covers 52 types of spices.
Dr Baruah has been credited with one patent and has discovered four new plant taxa and three new types of stomata. Regarding the growing popularity of small tea gardens, he urged all the farmers to use only the unused and sub-used land for tea cultivation instead of land of their houses . This practice has destroyed the composite agriculture culture of Assamese society, he said.