Introduction: – Embelica officinal is commonly known as Amla or India Gooseberry or Nelli is an important crop in India with high medicinal value. The fruits have the richest source of vitamin-C (700mg per 100g of fruits) and are considered to be good liver tonic. The various preparations using Amla include chyavaprash, Triphala Churna, Brahma Rasayana and Modumergha churna. The fruit is valued as an antiscorbutic, diuretic, Laxative, antibiotic and anti dysenteric. Phyllemblin, obtained from fruit pulp has been found to have mild depressant action on central nervous system. It has good demand from the industries for the preparation of various health care products also like hair oil, dye, shampoo, face creams and tooth powder. In India, some people even make pickles with amla.
Climatic requirement for Amla farming: – Amla is a tropical plant. Annual rainfall of 630-800mm is ideal for its growth. The young plant up to the age of 3 years should be protected from hot wind during May-June and from frost during winter months. The mature plants can to tolerate freezing temperature as well as a high temperature up to 46ᵒ C.
Soil requirement for Amla farming: – Light and medium heavy soils except purely sandy soil is ideal for amla cultivation. The tree is well adapted to dry regions and can also be grown in moderate alkaline soils.
Amla Varieties: – The varieties recommended for cultivation are Banarasi, Chakaiya, Francis, NA-4 (Krishna) NA 5 (Kanchan), NA-6, NA-7, NA-10 and BSR-1 (Bhavanisagar).
Amla planting material and inputs: – 15kg FYM and 0.5 kg phosphorus should be applied to each pit before planting. Application of 30g of nitrogen each year during September – October up to 10 years for each tree is recommended.
Propagation in Amla Farming: – Amla is generally propagated by shield budding. Budding is done on one year old seedlings with buds collected from best varieties yielding big sized fruits. Older trees or poor yielders can be changed into superior types by top working.
Planting in Amla farming: – The pits of 1 m3 are to be dug during May-June at a distance of 4.5 m spacing and should be left for 15-20 days exposing to sunlight. Each pit should be filled with surface soil mixed with 15 kg farm yard manure and 0.5 kg of phosphorus before planting the budded seedling.
Irrigation/Water supply in Amla farming: – Yong plants require watering during summer months at 15 days interval till they are fully established. Watering of bearing plants is advised during summer months at bi-weekly interval. After the monsoon rains during October-December about 25-30 liters of water per day per tree through drip irrigation should be given. Drip irrigation is best way of watering amla plants.
Training and pruning in Amla farming: – Leaving only 4-5 well shaped branches with wide angle at about 0.75m from the ground level, other dead, diseased, week crises crossing branches and suckers should be pruned off at the end of December.
Mulching in Amla farming: – During summer, the crop should be mulched with paddy straw or wheat straw at the base of tree up to 15-20 cm from the trunk.
Inter cultivation in Amla farming: – Inter crops like green gram, cow pea and horse gram can be grown up to 8 years in amla farming.
Pests and Diseases in amla farming: – Major insect in amla farming is: Bark eating caterpillar and major disease is rust.
Control Measures: –
- Injection of Endsoulphon 0.05% or Monocrotophos 0.03% in holes and plugging with mud is effective in protecting the tree against bark eating caterpillar.
- Spraying of indofil M-45 @ 0.3% twice first in early September and second 15 days after first application controls the spread of rust.
Harvesting of Amla: – Amla plants start bearing after about 4-5 years of planting. The fruits are harvested during February when they become dull greenish yellow from light green. The mature fruits are hard and they do not fall at gentle touch and therefore vigorous shaking is required. Fruits can also be harvested using long bamboo poles attached with hooks.
Yield of Amla: – A mature tree of 10 years old will yield 50-70 kg of fruit. The average weight of the fruit is 60-70 grams and 1 kg contains about 15-20 fruits. A well maintained tree yields up to an age of 70 years.
Marketing of Amla: – As it has medicinal value, this fruit has great demand in Indian market as well as in International market. Fruits can be transported to local markets or any herbal companies.
Bottom Line: – Thriving in drought conditions, having long period of life, low investment, minimum care and its medicinal value makes Amla farming a very profitable business.