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  COMMODITY WATCH
Saturday, September 01, 2001 

Scientists brew herbal tea from safflower petals

New Delhi: In view of the cultivation of safflower plant for oil becoming non-remunerative for farmers due to availability of cheap imported palm oil, scientists in Maharashtra have taken to a new approach towards safflower by using its petals as herbal tea.

The anecdotal data by herbal tea users indicates that it is very good for curing hypertension, spondylosis and some respiratory ailments, Mr Anil Rajvanshi, director of Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), the institute where the new approach has been developed, said.

In the new approach, aimed at preventing wastage of petals, safflower petals are harvested just before seed harvesting. Thus, petals at the time of harvesting are already dry, Mr Rajvanshi said in an NARI release.

These petals are now being sold at around Rs 400 per kilogram, increasing the remunerations to the farmers by almost 10 times, he said adding petals have become the main product of safflower plant, making the seed a by-product.

Dabur Nepal has taken up the NARI safflower hybrids for large-scale planting in Nepal for petal production, he said.

As collection of petals from safflower plant is a difficult task owing to the presence of thorns in the plant, NARI researchers have also developed a battery powered petal collector.

The petal collector is a knapsack type machine which allows the operator to collect petals easily from the plant, Mr Rajvanshi said. The batteries are charged by solar PV panels.

Data shows that the quantity of petals collected by the machine is almost double from that collected by hands, he said.

Safflower is grown by marginal farmers in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat primarily for seed from which safflower oil is produced.

The oil is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and is considered good for the heart.

However, recent Government policies have made cheap imported palm oil available for consumption, making local oil seed production non-remunerative. It has badly hit farmers engaged in safflower cultivation, the release said.

-- PTI

 
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