Strategy for habitat selection for lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus stapf.) Cultivation in non- reserve forests of Western Ghats, Kerala, India

Strategy for habitat selection for lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus stapf.) Cultivation in non- reserve forests of Western Ghats, Kerala, India

Author: 
Sangeeth Thekkan, Tamilselvi, S.S. and Paulsamy, S.
Abstract: 

In certain low hills of Western Ghats of Kerala, the tribal communities viz., Kattunaikans, Paniya and Uralis (Wayanad district), Malappandarum, Mala-aryan, Malavedan and Malakuruva (Pathanamthitta district) and Mala-aryans and Muthuvans (Idukki district) are the integral part of ecosystems. These tribal communities did cultivation of lemongrass and distilled oil. After the declaration of study sites as protective areas for biodiversity conservation, they are not permitted to continue the practice of lemongrass cultivation. However, they are allowed to extract oil from the existing populations, without adapting any cultivation practices. Therefore, while rehabilitating these tribes to other non-reserve forests of adjoining regions, habitats suitable for lemongrass cultivation with good oil quality similar to that of the sites in protected areas must be identified. The present study aims to evaluate favourable habitat for lemongrass growth in non-reserve forests of Western Ghats, Kerala by analyzing certain areas where the lemongrass oil distillation is under practice by the tribal communities. The results of the study show that among the 11 sites, Vadasserikara and Meppadi are more favourable for lemongrass growth and oil yield. Correlation and regression analyses showed that the maximum and minimum temperatures, rainfall and relative humidity, pH, N, P, K Ca and Mg contents of soil and altitude are largely determining the biomass production, oil concentration in biomass and citral percent in oil. Therefore, it is suggested to identify habitats in nearby non-reserved forests with more or less similar climatic conditions, soil pH and nutrients and altitude as in Vadasserikara and Meppadi for practicing agroforestry by lemongrass cultivation and oil distillation for tribal communities.

Paper No: 
773