Saturday, 19 May 2012

World Vegetable Centre: Amaranthus may well become the most sought after leafy vegetable

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: The humble thotakura or Amaranthus has now emerged
as a major climate resilient vegetable crop that not only fights the
climate change, but also fulfills the growing nutritional needs of
human beings.

Farm scientists in Hyderabad are playing a key role in promoting
Amaranthus the world over as a climate resilient crop specially meant
for home gardens. A small home garden can produce about 300 kgs of
Amaranthus and other vegetables per year, more than sufficient for a
family of five.

Dr Warwick Easdown, regional director, World Vegetable Centre, said
“our main work on Amaranthus in South Asia is for its use in home
gardens. Amaranthus is an important part of home gardens because it is
so nutritious, grows rapidly and can be harvested repeatedly”.

The World Vegetable Centre, located on the Icrisat campus, produces
Amaranthus seed for supply to its other research field sites. “We have
also had demonstration trials of different varieties in Hyderabad. Our
trial work has focused on collecting yield and nutritional
contributions within home gardens at field sites elsewhere and in
Hyderabad.  These home gardens can produce 250-350 kg of vegetables
per year from an area of only 6 m x 6 m. We have also developed
recipes that utilise the production from these gardens to improve
their nutritional yields,” Dr Warwick said.

According to World Vegetable Centre scientists, as the earth’s climate
shifts and changes, farmers need resilient vegetable crops to produce
well under drought, flooding, high winds and other extreme weather
conditions. Amaranthus thrive in a range of climates. It has a fast
growth, has a high yield over a relatively long period, and is not
affected much by insect pests and diseases, high temperatures, and
heavy rainfall.

Amaranth is low in saturated fats and sodium and does not contain
cholesterol. It is a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium,
phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. It is a very good
source of high quality protein with well-balanced amino acids and many
vitamins in high levels.

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