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.