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The finest Lakadong variety of turmeric from the Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya, India.

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Abstract

An assessment has been made to survey and document the lakadong variety of turmeric which is regarded as the best variety of turmeric of Meghalaya. Through this paper a brief note has also been presented to reflect on the processing and marketing as well as traditional uses and belief of this turmeric by local village.
The finest Lakadong variety of turmeric from the Jaintia Hills
of Meghalaya, India
P. Daimei, Y. Kumar, N. Sheikh, N.L. Pfoze and S. Paduna
Botany Department, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong.-793022, Meghalaya, India
E-mails: daimeip@yahoo.com; yogendrakumar@hotmail.com
Revised 28.04.2012; Accepted 30.04.2012
Abstract
An assessment has been made to survey and document the lakadong variety of turmeric which is
regarded as the best variety of turmeric found in Meghalaya. Through this paper a brief note has also
been presented to reflect on the processing and marketing as well as traditional uses and beliefs of this
turmeric by local villagers.
Key words: Turmeric, Lakadong variety, Jayantia Hills, Meghalaya
INTRODUCTION
In India the use of turmeric dates back to nearly 4000 years when it was used as a culinary spice
and had some religious significance. Our country is the world’s largest producer, consumer and
exporter of turmeric with an annual production of about 658,400 tonnes. Its rhizomes contain
yellow pigments called curcuminoids, colouring principle of which is curcumin and is responsible
for many medicinal properties (Aggarwal et al 2005; Joe et al 2004). The rhizomes exhibit intense
anti- hepatotoxic (Koso et al 1983) and anti-cancerous (Chakraborty et al 2004, 2005, 2008)
actions. Ancient texts of Indian medicine described the use of curcumin for a wide variety of
inflammatory diseases including sprains and swellings caused by injury, wound healing and abdominal
problems (Shishodia et al 2005). The drug is also used in cold, cough, bronchitis, conjunctivitis and
liver affections (Nadkarni 1954). An ethanolic extract of turmeric and an ointment of curcumin
produce remarkable relief in patients with external cancerous lesions (Kuttan et al 1987). Studies
on turmeric extracts show significant antioxidant activities (Sharma 1976; Toda et al 1985, Shalini
& Srinivas 1987; Srinivas & Shalini 1991). Ever since the US patent office has patented many
Indian plants beside neem and basmati rice, yet failed to patent haldi (i.e. turmeric). The Mississippi
Medical Centre in 1995 claimed a new use, in healing wounds. Indian scientists proved that such
knowledge already existed in ancient Indian manuals. In the light of this evidence, the US Patent
and Trademarks Office struck down the patent.
The Lakadong variety of turmeric is originated from Lakadong area of the Jaintia Hills
district of Meghalaya. It is considered to be one of the world’s best varieties of turmeric with its
curcumin content of about 6.8 - 7.5 %. (Shreeranjan 2006). In the world, may be at some point of
time this turmeric variety qualifies in the Geographic Indicator List of India.
Turmeric Curcuma longa Linnaeus (Zingiberaceae) is used as condiment, dye, drug and
cosmetic in addition to its use in religious ceremonies. The colour of the processed turmeric
influences the price of the produce. Lakadong turmeric is one of the best varieties found in
Meghalaya state, India. It is slightly dark in colour compared to any other turmeric varieties found
in India. The name of this turmeric variety is derived from the place where it was originated.
Before almost every household of Lakadong village cultivate turmeric. However, mainly because
Pleione 6(1): 141 - 148. 2012. ISSN: 0973-9467
© East Himalayan Society for Spermatophyte Taxonomy
of large scale coal mining in the area and higher returns from ginger cultivation in the market,
cultivation of this turmeric variety is now shifted from Lakadong to its neighbouring villages.
Meghalaya produced 10508 metric tonnes of turmeric from 1,817 hectares in 2005
2006. Although turmeric is now growing in almost all over the state, but still Jaintia Hills has the
highest area under turmeric cultivation and contribute more than half of the total turmeric production
from the state. Some of the villages where Lakadong turmeric cultivation has been carried out
include Sumer, Lakadong, Shangpung, Iooksi, Nongtyngkoh, Khoushnong, Umdeanglin,
umchalait and Saphai. A number of cultivars are now available in the Lakadong area. Some of
the popular cultivars are Lakadong, Lashien, Ladaw, Lakachain and Yangau.
Study area
Meghalaya is a state in north-eastern India. It is a hilly strip in the eastern part of the country. It
is about 300 km long (east-west) and 100 km wide, with a total area of about 22,720 km². The
state is bounded on the north by Assam and by Bangladesh on the south. About one third of the
state is forested. Lakadong is located 64 km away from its capital city Shillong. It is a village in
Laskein, Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya State. Lakadong is located 21.53 km distance from its
District Main City Jowai. The Lakadong area of the Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya stretches
across the latitudinal parallel of 25° 10' 603 N and the longitudinal meridian of 92° 16' 603 E with
an Altitude of 610 m. The climatic data for the Lakadong area is presented in Table 1.
Table 1. Climatic data for Jaintia Hills during July 2010 to June 2011
Months
Temperature in ºC
Rainfall
in mm
Maximum
Minimum
25
18
451.5
August ’10
27
19
641.5
September ’10
25
17
249
October ’10
24
14
775
November ’10
24
12
16
December ’10
21
11
99
January ’11
11
9
00
February ’11
25
13
193.5
March ’11
25
14
527.5
April ’11
24
16
432
May ’11
27
17
645
June ’11
25
18
1043
Annual’10
-
’11
23.58
14.83
5073
METHODOLOGY
The present report is based on the information obtained through survey undertaken in Curcuma
longa Linnaeus growing areas of Lakadong of Jaintia hills in June 2011. The administrative
zones, of Lakadong where farmers specialize in turmeric production were purposely selected
and its surveys were covered during the study. Informal survey tools such group discussions,
personal interviews and field observations, were administered to collect the required information.
Field survey data were supplemented with information obtained through review of published
sources. The data collected were summarized and discussed using a descriptive approach
which is a qualitative research format. The voucher specimens were made and deposited in
NEHU Herbarium. Live specimens were also collected and planted in the Botanical Garden of
NEHU.
142 Lakad ong variety of turmeric from the Jaintia Hills
Fig. 1. Location map for the study area ‘Lakadong’ in Meghalaya
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
In Lakadong turmeric is cultivated in humid and warm climate with very high rainfall of about
4000 10000 mm. This zone occurs in the southern slope comprising of the eastern part of
Jaintia Hills. The soil is of light to medium texture and deep to very deep. The farmers had
experienced that when this turmeric variety is cultivated outside the Jaintia hills the quality
deteriorates thereby posing a limitation for cultivation outside the traditional Lakadong area.
This turmeric has an immense potential for commercialisation for its high curcumin content.
According to farmers of the areas, there had been a higher and more extensive production of
turmeric in this region previously but due to coal mining in the region for the past 20 to 30 years
the cultivation has decreased considerably. However, in subsequent years, a sudden fall of the
P. Daimei et al 143
Jaintia Hills
Ja i nt ia H il ls
price shortly occurred followed by a high production, which resulted in low market demand of
the produce. Consequently, farmers could not get benefit from turmeric production for the last
3 to 4 years. As a result, a total production and the size of land allotted by farmers for its
cultivation are declining at alarming rate. Currently, almost all resourceful poor farmers in
Lakadong area are shifting to the production of Zingiber officinale due to higher demand by
abandoning turmeric cultivation and powder production. Farmers argue that growing turmeric
commercially is full of uncertainty if there is no market guarantee based on certain agreement.
Once the market demand decreases, the only alternative would be the dumping, because no
part of it goes to household consumption, unlike food crops.
Pre-harvest management practices
Cultivation
The land is prepared with the receipt of early monsoon showers. The preparation of land includes
removal of existing bushes and other unwanted vegetation. The soil is brought to a fine tilth by
ploughings using tractor or hand tools. Immediately with the receipt of pre-monsoon showers,
beds of convenient length are prepared with spacing between the beds. Planting is also done by
forming ridges and furrows.
In Lakadong and its surrounding areas where the rainfall begins early, the crop is planted
during March April with the receipt of pre-monsoon showers. Whole or split mother and finger
rhizomes are used for planting and well developed healthy and disease free rhizomes are to be
selected. Small pits are made with a hand hoe on the beds with some spacing of 0.6 metre each
between plant to plant and row to row. Pits are filled with well decomposed farm yard manure or
compost. FYM is also applied by broadcasting at the time of land preparation or as basal dressing
by spreading over the beds or into the pits at the time of planting. Insecticides are also spread
over it. More than one seed-rhizome is used in a pit for economical aspects in terms of FYM or
compost etc. and for less occupancy of space. Generally 2 – 4 seed-rhizomes are placed over it
and then covered with soil. If the cultivation is done at a home garden then turmeric is planted
together with maize in the same pit in order to save time and space. At the rate of 25 kg of seed-
rhizomes is used for planting in around 100 sq m area in the month of April. And, the crop is
harvested during late December to early January.
Mulching
The crop is to be mulched immediately after planting with green leaves after earth-filing.
Weeding and irrigation
After planting first weeding was done within 2 to 3 weeks of emergence and then it has been
carried out time to time depending upon weed intensity. An average of 2 – 3 weeding is required
in a turmeric-field. No artificial irrigation is done and rain water is sufficient for its cultivation in
the region.
Mixed cropping
The Lakadong variety turmeric is grown as an intercrop with maize, Ladies finger, gourd, chillies,
taro (Colocasia sp.), onion, brinjal, ragi, etc.
Harvesting
Maturity of turmeric and readiness for harvest is indicated by the drying of the aerial parts of
plants. Lakadong variety turmeric matures and becomes ready for harvest in 8 – 9 months so
harvesting is done in late December and early January. The land is ploughed and the rhizomes are
gathered by hand picking or the clumps are carefully lifted with spade. The harvested rhizomes
are cleared of mud and other extraneous matter adhering to those.
144 Lakad ong variety of turmeric from the Jaintia Hills
PLATE - I: Fig. - a. Showing mixed cropping; Fig. - b. Withering of plants indicating maturity; Fig. - c. Slice
of dried turmeric fingers; Fig. - d. The local turmeric grinding machine.
After cultivation they dry the whole fingers of the rhizomes and then sell it directly to
Eooskhi village where the local bazaar is located without cutting and grinding the turmeric so that
those who bought it from this local market will carry out the remaining process
Processing
P. Daimei et al 145
Curing:
Fresh turmeric is cured for obtaining dry turmeric. The fingers are separated from mother rhizomes.
Mother rhizomes are usually kept as seed material. Curing is done by boiling of fresh rhizomes in
water and drying under the direct sun. In the traditional method of curing, the cleaned rhizomes
are boiled. Boiling is stopped when froth comes out and white fumes appear giving out a typical
odour. The processing of turmeric is to be done 2 or 3 days after harvesting. If there is delay in
processing, the rhizomes should be stored under shade or covered with sawdust or coir dust.
Drying
The boiled fingers are sliced and then dried in the sun by spreading those on bamboo mats or
drying floor. During night time, the rhizomes are heaped or covered with material which allows
aeration. After 10 – 15 days the rhizomes become completely dry. The turmeric cultivators sells
the dried cut turmeric to Iooksi village in the market from there in turn local business traders buy
and sell it to local Mill grinders and then transport it to Shillong.
Packaging and Marketing:
The grinded turmeric powder weighing and packaging is done in polythene bags of varying weights.
In the market dry cut turmeric of Lakadong variety is sold at Rs. 150 per kg while other varieties
are sold at Rs. 120 – 130. But after grinding the Lakadong variety turmeric powder is sold at Rs
250 per kilogram while other varieties are sold at Rs. 150 – 200 (Table 2).
Table 2. Comparison of market price lakadong variety with other variety
of turmeric in its place and local market
Product
Lakadong
variety
i
n Rs.
Other varieties
in Rs.
Sliced dried turmeric
(in Lakadong)
150 120 – 130
Grinded Powdered
(in Lakadong)
250 150 – 200
Sliced dried turmeric
(in the market)
180 – 2 00 150 – 180
Grinded Powdered
(in the market)
280 – 3 00 230 – 260
Preservation of seed rhizome
For storing the seed-rhizome, mother rhizomes and healthy disease free fingers are selected and
are heaped separately after removing the rootlets and scales. Earlier they used to dig pits of
convenient sizes on a raised ground, filled with dry straw along with other plant leaves mixed with
dried turmeric leaves and all the sides of the pits were covered with a thin layer of dried leaves of
turmeric mixed with Neem leaves to protect those from insects and pests. After properly stacking
the bags of turmeric preferably small sizes for convenient handling the pits are covered with
wooden planks with one or two openings for aeration. But these days they generally store seed-
rhizomes by heaping in one place or corner of a well ventilated room and covered with turmeric
leaves.
Local ethnic use
Traditionally, in Pnar community of Jaintia, turmeric is also associated with thanksgiving and
naming ceremony of a child. During thanksgiving ceremony right after the child birth the turmeric
146 Lakad ong variety of turmeric from the Jaintia Hills
is kept in a bronze plate along with dry fish. It was cut in square shape and tied on the hands of
the baby to protect them from any dangerous fall, accident, getting hurt etc.
CONCLUSION
Documentation of such traditional knowledge in terms of food, medicine and other utilities is
necessary and useful for the betterment of life-style. Farmers can be the key players in overall
strategies aiming to increase products consumption. They are likely to be motivated through the
guaranteed better economic returns. Policies are needed to empower farmers so that diversification
can become a reality along with cost-effectiveness in their production systems, and so that their
harvests can be scheduled and managed to ensure year-round supplies of a range of safe produce.
The present investigation represents an embodiment of work of limited magnitude but is of
considerable importance towards understanding the resources and can help to understand the
effects of, and the potential and scope for, incentives and subsidies to stimulate growth and
efficiency in turmeric supply. Turmeric has been studied widely for its bioactivity and medicinal
properties despite having ethonobotanical values. These rich bioresources in terms of their significant
active principles or bio-active molecules need to be explored for sustainable utilization and the
socio-economic upliftment of the people in the region.
Acknowledgements
The authors are thankful to the Head of Botany Department, North Eastern Hill University,
Shillong for providing laboratory facilities and to the University Grants Commission, New Delhi,
for financial assistance. We are also grateful to the reviewers for their helpful suggestions and
extensive help.
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148 Lakad ong variety of turmeric from the Jaintia Hills
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