Agri - Kaleidoscope

Agri - Kaleidoscope - Plant Genetic Resources

The plant genetic resources (PGR) as the natural heritage is important from the Indian economy as 93% of human food stuffs are the products of plant origin. The PGR is an integral part of crop improvement programme. Collection, conservation and utilization are important at national, regional and global context. About 70% of the population of the region relies on the plants as the source of medicine. About 7000 plants out of 8900 species of ethno-botanical interest are medicinal. Biodiversity generates economic valued-extractable plant products, compounds, genes and species to meet an industry need. About 40% of the global economy is based on biological products and processes.

Agriculture and allied activities are the main source of livelihood for the people of the region. A large number of domesticated plant species with the spectrum of genetic variability under natural or farmers’ selection pressures require re-orientation in planning and conservation of PGR.   Among the cereal crops rice, maize, millets, oilseeds, pulses etc. are mainly cultivated both in traditional jhum or shifting cultivation or settled cultivation system. Tea cultivation in hill slopes and jute cultivation in inundated floods are common. Horticultural crops by and large are important in the hill states. Several horticultural crops – fruits (citrus, pineapple, banana, guava, litchi, jackfruits, plums, pear, peach, apple, walnut, kiwi, chestnuts, cashwenut), spices (large cardamom, zinger, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, chilli, onion, garlic and other condiments), vegetables (potato, brinjal, tomato, cucurbits, spinach), tuber crops (yams, taros) etc. offers great scope for cultivation of wide variety of tropical, sub-tropical, temperate and horticultural crops. Besides bamboos, floriculture offers a big scope for the economy of the region.  It is estimated that among the total 326 species of Cultivated Wild R, at least 132 prevail in the North Eastern region (Arora and Nair 1984). In this region, the compositions of dicotyledonous species are almost three times more than the monocotyledonous species. The dominant species belongs to the families are Orchidaceae, Poaceae, Cyperaceae, Rosaceae, Leguminosae, Asteraceae, Fagaceae, Magnoliaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Urticaceae, Moraceae, Melastomataceae and Euphorbiaceae. Out of 1500 threatened forest species in India, 650 species are from this region.

Table 1: Distribution of wild relatives of crops in the North East Region

Crop Species No.
Cereal millets 16
Legumes 6
Fruits 51
Vegetables 27
Oil seeds 1
Fibre crops 5
Spices and condiments 13
Miscellaneous 13