Importance of Ashwagandha

Importance of Ashwagandha
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Introduction :
Ashwaganola (Withania somnifera) commonly known by the Narmes asgandha and a sugandh belongs to the family Solanaceae. It is commonly known as winter cherry in English. It is an erect, herbaceous evergreen and tomentose undershrub, 5 to 150 cm tau. All parts are clothed with whish, stellate hairs. Leaves petiolate, 5 to 10 cm long, ovate and subacute. Flowers are bisexual, greenish, or red yellow usually about 5 together in sub-sessile umbel form games. The fruit is a body, enclosed in calyx pouch, turning orange-red in color when mature. Seeds are many and enclosed in the pulp.
* Occurrence :
Ashwagandha is an important cultivated medicinal coop of India. It is alms found wild in grazing grounds in Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand, Maharashtra up to 1,200 to 1,500 m above ms1. The crop is cultivated in an area of about 4,000 ha in India mainly in Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and some areas in South India.
Ashwagandha grows successfully in sandy loam or light red soils with good organic matter and drainage. It prefers a subtropical climate and is planted in the rainy season and prefers dry weather for its successful cultivation.
* Reproduction :
Flowering and fruiting take place between June to November. It is also a self-pollinated coup and is cultivated through seeds.
* Nursery and plantation Techniques :
The crop can be grown by directly sowing the seeds into the field as well as by raising the nursery. Seeds are sown directly in the main field by broadcasting cloning the second week of June, before the onset of monsoons. a seed rate of  10 to 12 kg/ha is required. Nursery is sown during the month of April to June. To avoid nursery diseases, the seeds are treated with Diathene M-45 at the rate of 39/kg of I seeds before sowing. The germination starts after 10 to 15 days of sowing when the seedlings in 30 cm spaced rows 5 to 7 cm apart in a well-prepared field. The field should be irrigated immediately after transplantation. Ashwagandha does not require heavy doses of manures and fertilizers. For a good crop, 10 / ha of FYM should be applied at the time of land preparation. The directly sown crop is thinned at 25 to 30 days to maintain a plant population of 4,76,000 to 6, 66,000/-ha. Hand weeding at 30 days interval helps to control the weeds effectively.
* Harvesting and Postharvest :
Harvesting is done in the month of December or January. The maturity of the crop is judged by the drying leaves and the berries turning red. The entire plant is uprooted and roots are separated from aerial pasts by cutting the stem to 2 cm above the 2 crowns. Roots are washed with running water or beaten with the club to remove the addressing soil. They are then transversely cut into smaller pieces for drying. After drying the entire product is case fully hand sorted into grades, based on the thickness and uniformity of the pieces. Generally, the roots are graded into three categories i.e. A, B, and C. An average field of 5 to z 79 ha of dried roots, and & 60 to 70 kg/ha of seed is obtained. The market – rate of dried roots of ashwagandha varies between Rs. 50 to 60/kg An income of Rs. 35,000/- to 50,000/- ha can be earned from 5 to 6 months crop of ashwagandha.
* Plant protection :
Seed rotting, seedling blight, and leaf blight are common diseases affecting ashwagandha. They reduce the plant population drastically.
They can be minimized by treating the seeds before sowing with captan at the rate of 3g/kg of seeds, followed by spraying the crop with Diathene M-45 at the rate of 3 g/ Lit. of water, when the crop is 30 days old. If the diseases are not controlled, then the spray should be repeated at an interval of 7 to 10 –days.
* Utilization and Economic Importance :
To several types of alkaloids are found in this plant, out of which nine and somniferine are important. The total alkaloid contents in the roots have been reported to vary bet 0.13 to 0.31 percent through a much higher yield up to 4.32 percent has also been reported. In addition to alkaloids, roots are reported to contain starch, reducing sugars, free amino acids, and neutral compounds leaves contain many free amino acids and unidentified alkaloids.
The drug ashwagandha derived from roots is mainly used in ayurvedic and Unani formulations withaferin -A has been receiving a good deal of attention because of its prebiotic and anti-tumor properties. Roots are used for curing leucorrhoea, rheumatisms, dyspepsia skin diseases, and bronchitis and are mainly used for curing general and sexual debility. Fruits and seeds are diuretics in nature.
Ashwagandha have immense qualities to make
Formers are wealthy & Healthy too.
Dr. Yogesh Y. Sumthane, Ph. D., MBA, DM & F, Bamboo Research & Training Centre, Chandrapur
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