Aromatic Plants

Growing Annatto in AP

  • Annatto is a wonder tree commonly called as lipstick tree. Its botanical name is Bixa orellana and it grows in tropical regions.
  • The seeds of this plant are covered with a bright orange t
  • o red pulpy layer, from which a commercial colour material is extracted. The fruit has the appearance of pods, and contain seeds from whcih the colour material is extracted.
  • Annatto is a natural colouring material used in food and dairy industries. It is a safe, economical and easy to use proudct.
  • The exclusion of many artificial colours in the western market from the list of permitted additives has further increased its value.
  • The plant is an ever green shrub / small tree and indigenous to Central and tropical South America. The tree has been introduced in Andhra Pradesh by some entrepreneurs and thriving well as a plantation crop.
  • It thrives best at a temperatures between 20 and 26 degrees celsius and can with stand up to 40 degrees and an annual rainfall of 1250 - 2000 m.m.
  • It requires dry seasons for seed ripening and so Andhra Pradesh is well duited. The plantations at Hyderabd, Visakhapatnam, Nellore and chittoor are 1 -3 years old and they are thriving well with drip irrigation or continuous irrigation facilities.
  • It can be grown in a variety of soils provided the drainage is good. The nutritional requirements are not high for this crop. The plant can be propagated by cutting if elite material possessing, a good combination of high seed yeilds and seed pigment contents is available.
  • Initial propagation is more commonly under taken with seed, either sown directly in the field or raised in a nursery but this can result in high variability.
  • In Andhra Pradesh most of the plantations are raised by seeds only and so. There is a greater varieation in the plants.
  • The experience of some of the farmers in Visakhapatnam is that other than weed control, husbandry requirements are not needed and artificial fertilizer application is not necessary.
  • The most important operation is pruning to produce canopy which is easy to harvest. Under favourable conditions, the first harvest is obtained 18-24 months after planting. Seed capsules appeared 30 days after planting in the Herbal Folklore Research Centre (HFRC) demonstration plantation.
  • For ripening and harvesting it took three months. The best sowing period is June - July. The harvesting period is February - March.
  • The colour of the pods varies from green to deep red or brown. Seed yield reaches the peak when the trees are 4 - 5 years of age and the productivity continues upto 20 years. The HFRC estimates that the plantation raised by spacing of 10 x 10 ft. yielded 500 kg to 2000 kg of dry seeds / ha /year.
  • The yield increased two fold when the plantations are well established. For individual trees the dried seed yield may vary between 0.5 to 3 kg/per year. The plantations at Hyderabad and in the boarder areas of A.P has good growth.
  • The farmers reported an yield of 2 - 3 kg/tree. At present more than 600 acres are under annatto cultivation. The predominant use of annatto in the developed market is in the form of extracts by food industry.
  • The traditional major colouring application have been in hard cheese, butter, other dairy products and in margarine, fish products, salad dressings, confectionary , bakery products, ice creams, beverages, and snacks.
  • There are many folklore medicinal uses besides the commercial aspect.
  • The seed is the source of bixin and nor-bixin pigments which impart grey or orange hue and considered as non - carcinogenic.
  • The farmers should select the best quality seedlings / cutting for plantation having 2 - 3 per cent bixin in the seeds.