Introduction to Amla Cultivation Project Report
Today, let us get into the details of cultivation of Amla fruit along with Amla Cultivation Project Report, and Economics.
Amla or the Indian gooseberry is also known by many names such as Aonla, Amlaki, Emblica, etc. Botanically Amla is referred to as Phyllanthus Emblica and is deciduous in nature. In India, this plant is considered both medicinal and sacred. This edible fruit is exclusively popular in the East and is used in Ayurveda for the preparation of medicines. This plant is grown in the Indian Sub-continent, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Srilanka, Costa Rica, and Reunion Island.
In India, the Amla tree is cultivated in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu. The total area under Amla production is about 50,000 hectares with an annual production of about 2 lakh tonnes of fruit.
Amla tree is believed to have originated from tropical South-eastern Asia. It grows in dry, hot, deciduous and moist forest areas. The plant can be grown at altitudes of 2000 m above sea level.
Amla Plant characteristics
Amla plant is small to medium in size of approximate height 8-18 m. The tree has a crooked trunk with smooth exfoliating bark that is greyish brown in color. The Amla tree has two types of shoots: short shoots (determinate) with flowers and long shoots (indeterminate). The branchlets of the tree are round and pubescent in nature. The leaves of the tree light green in color; they smell like lemon; the leaves are oblong, feathery and subsessile in nature. The leaves are alternate and closely arranged. The stipules of the plant are oval in shape and the plant flowers during the months of February to May.
The fruit of tree tastes sour and astringent initially but has a sweet, pungent and bitter secondary taste. The fruit is smooth and hard with depression at the poles. The diameter of the fruit is 1-5 cm and the flesh is acidulous. The color of the fruit is yellowish-green or greenish-yellow upon ripening. The skin of the fruit is thin and translucent. The skin is firmly attached to the pulp and has 6 striations extending from base to apex. The weight of the fruit is generally 15 to 50 g. The stone within the fruit is tightly set in the center. The stone is six ribbed and is enclosed with fleshy pericarp and is enclosed by two hard trigonous seeds. The seed weighs around 0.4 to 2 g.
Varieties of Amla
There are different varieties of Amla available around the world. In India, the cultivars are differentiated on the basis of their maturity period. The varieties like Banarasi, Krishna and balwant mature early during the months of October-November; Francis, Kanchan, and Amrit are considered medium maturing variety obtained during November- December; Neelam, BSR-1 and Chakaiya mature during the months of December-January. Other varieties of Amla found in India are BGK-1, Faizabad, Gujarat Amla-1, Anand-1,2,3, NA-8, 9,18, Mehrun, dongri, agrabold, modibagh, etc.
Among the above-mentioned varieties, kanchan and balwant are most suited for rain-fed areas; whereas banarsi, kanchan, BSR-1 amrit, neelam, balwant, chakaiya are suitable for saline or acidic soil types conditions.
Soil and climatic requirements for Growing Amla
This tree is generally grown in subtropical, tropical, dry arid and semi-arid climatic conditions. The minimum annual rainfall required for Amla cultivation is around 600-800 mm. The tender Amla plants are sensitive to dry and hot weather conditions. Mature Amla trees can tolerate freezing and high temperatures around 46˚C. The plants do not tolerate low temperatures and frost.
Amla trees need sandy loam to clay type of soil with a typical pH range of 6.5 to 9.5. The soil for Amla cultivation should be well drained, fertile and deep. The cultivation of Amla is not possible in waterlogged, heavy and sandy type of soils.
Propagation methods of Amla
New Amla plants can be grown either through seeds or by vegetative propagation. When Amla plants are grown from seeds, then it results in a heterogeneous population bearing small-size fruits. In the forest region, natural regeneration happens through seeds. Amla orchards are raised through grafted or budded plants. The seeds are collected from ripe fruits obtained in December-February and they are sun-dried until they release seeds. Seeds are generally sown in the month of March-April on raised soil beds or polythene bags. If seedlings are used for propagation, then they should be 6- 12 months old. Seed germination starts after 20 days and gets completed after 40 days of sowing. The seed propagation success rate is around 35 to 50%.
Amla plants are propagated through budded seedlings, grafts or wood cuttings; the success rate is around 60-90%. Since there is low availability of shoots, inarching is not practiced. The scion sticks of about 8 to 10 cm thickness with 4 to 6 activated buds from softwood branches are generally selected for grafting to obtain 95% success. Depending on the rootstock thickness and age, grafting is done 2-15 cm above the collar region. Budding or grafting is done in nurseries or on farmlands and sprouting starts in 10-30 days. Dry and rainfed regions also practice in situ grafting on the farm-grown rootstocks.
Land preparation and planting in Amla Farming
The land is properly ploughed, harrowed, levelled and cleaned before planting the seeds or grafts. Pits of dimensions 50-100 cm³ are created a few weeks before planting. Dug soil is mixed with 20 kg of FYM, 1 kg of neem cake, 500 g of bone meal, 1 kg of single super phosphate and 100 g of 10% of BHC. This mixture is filled into the pits and watered after transplanting the grafts. The recommended planting density is 156-494 plants per hectare. The inter and intra row spacing is maintained from 4 to 8 m. The square and rectangular planting methods use the following spacing recommendations: 4.5 x 4.5 m, 6 x 6 m, 7 x 7 m, 8 x 8 m or 8 x 4 m.
Manure and fertilizer requirement
For obtaining high yield, application of manure and fertilizer is essential. The recommended manure and fertilizer dose for a 1-year-old Amla plant is 10 kg of FYM, 100 g of N, 50 g of P and 75 g of K. The requirement of these fertilizers may vary depending on the age of the plant. The need of manure and fertilizer for a 10 to 12 years old plant is estimated to be 0.5 to 1.5 kg of N, 0.25 -1 kg of P and 0.375 -0.8 kg of K. These plants also need 50 kg of FYM and 5 kg of press-mud each year. The fertilizers are applied to the plants in two half doses: one before flowering and the other after fruit set.
If in case there is boron deficiency, 0.6% borax is sprayed over the plants to prevent fruit necrosis. To improve plant growth and proper fruit development, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper and calcium nitrate are sprayed over the plants.
Irrigation requirements of Amla trees
This plant is tolerant of drought. The farm area during cultivation of Amla is mulched with pruned branches, organic materials or with a black polythene sheet in very dry and arid regions so as to conserve moisture and increase production. Generally, in water scarce areas, pitcher watering is practiced. Plants are watered immediately after transplanting and regularly at an interval of 10 to 15 days during summer. During fruit establishment, the trees are watered at an interval of 15 to 20 days during summer. The plants are not irrigated during the flowering period. It is estimated that each Amla plant requires around 10 l of water during 1-2 years of age, 15 l of water during 3-5 years of age and 20-30 l of water after 6 years of age approximately. Drip irrigation is considered the best source of irrigation for Amla orchards.
Pest and disease control measures in Amla Farming
The common pests and diseases infecting the Amla plants are bark eating caterpillar, shoot gall maker, hairy caterpillar, aphid, mealy bug, plant bug, stone borer, fruit rot, leaf or fruit rust, anthracnose, dieback of branches, soft rot and brown fruit rot.
The above mentioned fungal diseases are controlled by using 1% Bordeaux mixture, 0.3% mancozeb, 0.1% carbendazim and 0.3% copper oxychloride. Natural beneficial enemies are used like cheilmenes, cotesia ruficrus, charops obtusus, etc control the spread of aphids and sucking pests. Spiders feed on mealy bugs.
- Training and pruning is an important activity during Amla cultivation; generally, 4 or 5 well-shaped branches having a wide angle of about 0.75 m from the ground level are left on the plant while pruning. Other diseased, weak, criss-cross branches and suckers are removed during December for better re-growth.
- Mulching should be done during the summer with paddy straw or wheat straw at the base of the Amla plants up to 15 or 20 cm around the trunk.
- The Amla plants are intercropped with black gram, cowpea, horse gram, and green gram plants up to 8 years of planting.
Harvesting and yield of Amla fruit
The Amla tree is considered to be a long day tree and produces flowers in the month of March-May (northern part of India) and in the months of June-July or February-March (southern part of India). Flower and fruit shedding is a major problem when trees are exposed to hot, dry winds. During the initial growth, adequate humidity is required. Normally it is observed that grafted or budded trees start fruiting after 3 to 5 years of planting and are capable of producing commercial yield in 8 to 10 years. Similarly, trees grown from seeds take approximately 6 to 12 years for producing a commercial yield. The development of the fruit is judged by the size of the fruit, its weight and change in color from green to yellow. The color of the seed also changes from cream to brown or black upon maturity. As the fruit reaches maturity; the specific gravity, total soluble solids, sugars, and ascorbic acid decrease. After the fruit has set it takes approximately 90 days for the fruit to get full size and 120 days to get the color.
Immature Amla is harvested for tanning purposes. Harvesting is done manually using bamboo ladders or harvesters. Sometimes fruits are also harvested by shaking the tree such that the fruit is collected on the ground, where a plastic or canvas sheet is spread. Each cultivar has a different harvesting season and yield characteristics. Normally an Amla tree has the capability to produce 300 kg of fruits. The observed yield from a farm of 156 plants with a spacing of 8 x 8 m is approximately 46.8 tonnes per hectare and similarly, a farm of 494 plants yields 149 tonnes per hectare. In the rain-fed, arid and semiarid regions the yield from each plant is 25 to 50 kgs. With better management practices it reaches up to 50-70 kgs per tree.
Post-harvest management of Amla
After proper harvest the fruits are graded into three different sizes, i.e. large fruits of about 4 cm diameter are always used in candy making and pickles, medium-sized fruits are used for making other edible products and small fruits are used for pharmaceutical purposes. Imperfect packing can spoil the fruits; therefore harvested fruits are stored in gunny bags or baskets with newspaper lining. The fruits can be stored for 4 -7 days at room temperature, but to increase the shelf life to 9 days, the fruits are stored in perforated polyethylene bags and kept in low energy cool chambers. If the fruits need to be stored for 30 days, then they are stored in 200 gauge high-density polyethylene bags and kept in cardboard boxes. To store the fruits for 60 days, they are kept at 5-7 ˚C. Storing the fruits in a brine solution at room temperature can increase their shelf life to 90 days. Other ways of increasing the shelf life of the fruits are by spraying chemicals during fruit development, blanching, using diphenyl, calcium nitrate, growth hormones, etc.
Read: Panchagavya Preparation.
Amla Cultivation Project Report / Cost and profit analysis
Cultivating Amla in one hectare of land is discussed here and the entire investment in farming is divided into different segments like plantation charges, gestation period charges, production period charges, etc. The details mentioned below may vary depending on the region of farmland and the type of farming structure and materials. The figures or values mentioned here are just for reference and the original cost of investment may vary from these values.
Assumptions in Amla Cultivation Project Report:
Cost of labor per man-day is Rs 250.
|Material (fixed charges)||Investment in Rs|
|Cost of fertilizers and manure||4,000.00|
|Plant material cost||5,000.00|
|Planting and irrigation||3,000.00|
|Total Investment (A)||50,000.00|
Amla Production cost during the gestation period
This depends on the type of intercropping activities during that period. Pea and moong are generally intercropped with Amla plants.
|Material||Investment in Rs|
|Cost of seeds||1,200.00|
|Manure and fertilizers||3,000.00|
|Plant protection chemicals||6,00.00|
Read: Cattle Feed Information.
Cost of Amla production during fruiting years
|Material and Labour||Investment in Rs per year (from 5th year onwards)|
|Human labor charges||25,000.00|
|Manure and fertilizers||5,000.00|
|Planting protection charges||1,000.00|
|Other miscellaneous charges||5,000.00|
If drip irrigation is being used in the farm, then the installation charges for the drip system could be around 50,000 to 75,000.
Total Investment for farming is:
The total yield from the farm is 150 quintals (15000 kgs) approximately.
The cost of each kg of Amla is Rs 25 per kg.
Total income from the farm in the 6th to 12th year of farming is: total yield x cost per each unit
(150 x 100 kgs x 25)
= Rs 3, 75,000.
Profit from the farm is approximately around 1.25 lakhs to 2 lakhs on the total investment structure because the Amla plants bear fruits (commercial production) only after 6 years of planting.
High-Density Amla Farming
Some varieties of Amla such as the NA 7, Krishna and Chakia are suitable for high-density planting i.e. the spacing within the plants is maintained at 3 x 3 m with a hexagonal or triangular method of planting. This way can accommodate approximately around 1200 plants within a hectare of land. Young Amla plants are protected by growing some shade tolerant medicinal plants such as the Gulmeg and Keelanelli until the Amla plants attain economic bearing age.
Loans and Subsidies for Amla Cultivation
Loans and subsidies are available for Amla farming depending on the size of the farm and the production profile. NABARD and National Horticulture Board websites can be utilized for getting more information on the amount of loan and subsidy available for the farming.