JORHAT, Sept 27 - Providing a fillip to agricultural research, the Jorhat-based North East Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST) has developed two high-yielding varieties of lemon grass or citronella, which were launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday at the Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi in sync with the 74th foundation day of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Prime Minister Modi, who is also the president of CSIR, interacted with two farmers of the State from New Delhi through a live telecast while they were attending a farmers� fair at the premises of CSIR-NEIST.
A farmer named Biswanath Pandit was asked by Modi whether the State could not produce a new brand of tea scientifically as consumers� choice now-a-days has shifted to newly-developed brands.
Replying to the PM, the farmer said that some tea growers of the State have already produced some kinds of organic tea and they are already getting better prices both in the national and international markets.
Another farmer attending the programme named Akshay Sharma was also asked by the PM whether the lemon grass or citronella had a good market in order to reap high benefit from cultivation. Sharma replied that he could sell one litre of citronella oil at a price ranging from Rs 600 to Rs 700 within the State.
However, he added that such a price was much less in comparison to the prices of Rs 1,200 and Rs 1,500 per litre of citronella oil outside the State.
He also said that CSIR-NEIST was trying to organise the farmers into a cooperative and brand the oil produced so that it fetched a good price along with a ready market.
It may be mentioned that the newly-developed Java Citronella variety was being developed through mutation breeding by using ethyl methane sulphonate (EMS) as a mutagenic agent while the new variety of lemon grass �Jor Lab L-8� had been developed through �pure line selection�.
Scientists said that physiological and chemical traits of all available lines in the gene bank of CSIR-NEIST experimental farm were screened and evaluated for their higher oil yield, citral content and herbage yield.
As both the varieties were very recently registered at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), their cultivation is still restricted in the experimental farm of CSIR-NEIST and mass multiplication in the field is going on so as to avail handful of planting material for distribution among the interested farmers.
The Vice Chancellor of Assam Agricultural University Dr KM Bujarbaruah, who launched the varieties here said that one laboratory should be set up centrally for aromatic plants to analyse the medicinal and other properties of the oils extracted from the plants for further studies.