Cultivation of Medicinal Plant ‘Brahmi ‘ (Bacopa monnieri ) in India

Cultivation of Medicinal Plant 'Brahmi ' (Bacopa monnieri ) in India

Cultivation of Medicinal Plant ‘Barhmi’ (Bacopa monnieri ) 

Brahmi  [Bacopa monnieri (Linn.) ]  belongs to the family  
Scorphulariaceae  It is commonly known as Brahmi, it is a highly valuable medicinal creeping succulent herb found in humid and warmer regions of the world.
In India, it is found naturally growing in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Foothills of Himachal Pradesh, and Uttaranchal.

According to National Medicinal Plants Board, New Delhi, it is classified one among 32 medicinal plants identified for cultivation and conservation and denoted among the list of 178 medicinal plant species in high volume trade i.e. 2000 – 5000 MT (metric ton) annually.

The Major Content Found in Brahmi ;

Plant contains saponins, bacoside A and B, monnierin, hersaponin, betulic acid, c-mannitol, stigmasterol. B-sitosterol and stigmastanol.

Health Benefits of Brahmi ;

Cultivation of Medicinal Plant 'Brahmi ' (Bacopa monnieri ) in India

1) Brahmi is astringent, bitter, cooling, pungent, emetic, laxative, and improves intellect
2) useful in bed ulcers, tumors, and enlargement of the spleen.
3) The entire plant is used in the indigenous system of medicine as a nerve tonic and cure for epilepsy and insanity.
4) It is also being used as a diuretic and for treating dermatosis, anemia, dropsy, arthritis, anorexia, dyspepsia, emaciation, rheumatism. asthma and hoarseness.
5) Besides this, the Brahmi also has got good potency in controlling of cough, fever, diabetes, and snakebite.
6) Because of its inherent potential of enhancing memory and vitality, this miracle plant is gaining attention for its commercial cultivation globally.
7) This plant is considered among one of the “Celestrial drugs” (Divya Ausadhi) when consumed with milk for six months.
In the Siddha system of medicine, the plant is useful against painful joints, swelling in joints, peripheral neuritis, constipation, and burning urination.
8) It is also used in convulsions, mental retardation, chest congestion, and laryngitis.

 Some commercial Products of Brahmi;

The whole plant is used in a variety of preparations like Brahmighrtam, Sarasvataristam, Brahmitailam, and Misrakasneham, etc. 

Modern proprietary herbal formulations containing Brahmi as the major ingredient like Memory Plus, Misrakasneham, Megamind Plus, Mental Brahmi, and various hair oils are widely available in the market.

Vernacular Names of Brahmi ;

English; Hyssop, Water hyssop, Herb of grace
Sanskrit; Nera Brahmi, Saraswathi
Hindi; Brahmi, jalnim
Kannada; Niru Brahmi 

Soil and Climate Required for Brahmi Cultivation;

1)The plant grows very well in poorly drained soils under sub-tropical climates.
2) A temperature range between 33-40 °C with a relative humidity of 65-80% has been found good for its optimum vegetative growth. 

3) The plant prefers acidic soil for its congenial growth and should be cultivated as a summer-rainy season crop. 
4) It can also be grown as an intercrop in plantations or orchards with 35- 50% shade condition.

Field Preparation for Brahmi Cultivation

1) The land is prepared well by repeated ploughing and harrowing. 

2) Apply 10 t/ha FYM  into the soil at the time of final ploughing. 
3) Field is converted into plots of convenient sizes along with irrigation channels. 
4) The land should be watered a day before planting for the successful establishment of plant cuttings.

Propagation of Brahmi Crop;

1) Time of Planting;  The cuttings should be preferably planted in the month of March-June or July-August to obtain maximum herbage yield.
2) Planting Material; 
a) The plant is usually propagated by softwood stem cuttings or runners. 
b) The cuttings of about 5-6 cm long, each with a few leaves and 3-4 nodes are ideal for planting  
c)About 62,500 numbers of cuttings are required for planting a one-hectare area. 
3) Planting Method; 
a) For mass propagation, the whole plant is cut into small divisions and planted directly in the sunken beds. 
b)The cuttings are planted in wet soil at a spacing of 10×10 cm or 20×20 cm to get maximum herbage yield. 
4) Irrigation has to be provided immediately after planting. 
5) Rooting will start within 15-20 days of planting.

Manures and Fertilizers Requirement in Brahmi Crop;

Integrated application of organic manure and inorganic fertilizers [RDF (100:60;60 kg NPK/ha)+ FYM (10 t/ha)] results in the highest dry herbage yield (Approx16 t/ha). 

his recommendation can also be substituted with the application of organic treatment of 100% N equivalent through FYM + Arka Microbial Consortium (AMC) @ 5kg/acre/year.

Irrigation Requirement in Brahmi Crop;

It is essential to water the field immediately after planting for the survival and good establishment of the plants. Subsequently, the field should be irrigated at 7-8 days intervals. Irrigation can be avoided during the rainy season. 

Weeding Requirement in Brahmi Crop

Primarily, hand weeding (3-4) is needed at every 15 to 20 days interval but later on, as plants proliferate and form a dense mat of vegetation, thereafter weeding may be done as and when required.

Intercropping system in Brahmi Crop

Brahmi may fit well in the Kharif season rice-based cropping system in plains of North India with the following cropping sequence; 

a) Brahmi and rice-wheat
b) Brahmi and Rice-Pea-Wheat
c) Brahmi and RiceBerseem-Maize
c)Brahmi and Rice- Winter vegetables – Maize. 
As it grows well under shaded conditions, it can also be grown as an intercrop under coconut, areca nut, and other perennial crops

Pest and Diseases Management in Brahmi

Insects like grasshopper and tobacco cutworm defoliate the plants during the summer season. These insects cause mass defoliation which reduces the dry herbage yield. These pests can be controlled by spraying neem or pongamia based biopesticides and botanicals. No serious diseases have been reported on this crop.

Harvesting of Brahmi Crop;

1) First harvesting commences four months after planting. 2) Subsequent harvests can be done at 2-3 months intervals depending upon the season and growth. 

3) The best time for the harvesting of Brahmi is between October-November, during which the maximum biomass is produced. After that, senescence sets in, and there is a loss of plant biomass and the alkaloid yield. 
4) The ratoon crop can be taken favorably. The stem is harvested using a sickle and basal portion up to 4-5 cm height is retained in the field for regeneration.

The Yield of Brahmi  Crop ;

1) On average, the yield of 300 q/ha fresh and 60 q/ha of dry herbage can be obtained from a single harvest. 
2) After the first harvest, 40 – 60 q/ha additional dry herbage yield can be achieved from the ratoon crops at different harvests. 
3) Once planted, the crop can be maintained for 2-3 years, thereafter yield and quality reduces, and hence it has to be replanted.

Post-harvest handling and storage of Brahmi Crop;

1) The traditional method followed is to dry the harvested fresh material by spreading it on the ground under shade at room temperature. 

2) The material should be turned over, alternatively, during drying. 
3) Freshly harvested herbage has the highest level of bioactive principles. 
4)The dried material should be packed in waterproof bags and stored in a cool dry room. 
5) Care should be taken towards insects and other fungi during storage. 
6) Rapid drying of fresh herbage in a cabinet or solar tunnel dryer to 8 % moisture retain the bioactive components (bacoside A) at better levels than shade and sun drying. 
7) Moisture impervious materials like 500 gauge thick HDPE bags or polythene-lined gunny bags are good packaging materials for quality retention.

Economics of Brahmi cultivation;

 (from both main and ratoon crops – 2 years of cropping)
1) As per the latest price statistics (National Medicinal Plants Board, 2019), the price for the whole dry plant of Brahmi ranges from Rs 20-50/kg in different markets across India.
2) The cost of cultivation is around Rs 80,000/- per hectare with a mean yield of 10 tons of dry herb per hectare.
3) The gross return of 3.50,000/- per hectare can be obtained with a selling price of Rs 35/kg of dry herb.
4) Hence, a net return of 2,70,000/- can be obtained by cultivating Brahmi in a one-hectare area.
Note; Market for medicinal plants is volatile and the economics may vary

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