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Cinnamon

Introduction

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Cinnamon is a small evergreen tree belonging to the family Lauraceae, native to Sri Lanka, or the spice obtained from the tree's bark. It is often confused with other similar species and the similar spices derived from them, such as Cassia and Cinnamomum burmannii, which are often called cinnamon too.

Classification

Kingdom:Plantae

Division:Magnoliophyta

Class:Magnoliopsida

Order:Laurales

Family:Lauraceae

Genus:Cinnamomum

Species:C. verum

Botanical name- Cinnamomum verum

Cultivation

Cinnamon is harvested by growing the tree for two years and then coppicing it. The next year, about a dozen shoots will form from the roots. These shoots are then stripped of their bark, which is left to dry. Only the thin (0.5 mm) inner bark is used; the outer woody portion is removed, leaving metre-long cinnamon strips that curl into rolls ("quills") on drying; each dried quill comprises strips from numerous shoots packed together. These quills are then cut into 5–10 cm lengths for sale.

Cinnamon has been cultivated from time immemorial in Sri Lanka, and the tree is also grown commercially at Kerala in southern India, Bangladesh, Java, Sumatra, the West Indies, Brazil, Vietnam, Madagascar, Zanzibar, and Egypt. Sri Lanka cinnamon has a very thin, smooth bark with a light-yellowish brown color and a highly fragrant aroma. According to the International Herald Tribune, in 2006 Sri Lanka produced 90% of the world's cinnamon, followed by China, India, and Vietnam. According to the FAO, Indonesia produces 40% of the world's Cassia genus of cinnamon.

The Sri Lankan grading system divides the cinnamon quills into four groups

  • Alba less than 6 mm in diameter
  • Continental less than 16 mm in diameter
  • Mexican less than 19 mm in diameter
  • Hamburg less than 32 mm in diameter.

Any pieces of bark less than 106 mm long is categorized as quillings. Featherings are the inner bark of twigs and twisted shoots. Chips are trimmings of quills, outer and inner bark that cannot be separated or the bark of small twigs.

Clove

Introduction

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Cloves are the aromatic dried flower buds of a tree in the family Myrtaceae. Cloves are native to Indonesia and India and used as a spice in cuisine all over the world. Cloves are harvested primarily in Sri Lanka. The clove tree is an evergreen which grows to a height ranging from 60-100 m, having large square leaves and sanguine flowers in numerous groups of terminal clusters. The flower buds are at first of a pale color and gradually become green, after which they develop into a bright red, when they are ready for collecting. Cloves are harvested when 1.5–2 cm long, and consist of a long calyx, terminating in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals which form a small ball in the centre.

The compound responsible for the cloves' aroma is eugenol. It is the main component in the essential oil extracted from cloves, comprising 72-90%. Eugenol has pronounced antiseptic and anesthetic properties. Sesquiterpenes.

Pepper

Introduction

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Pepper is a native of the Western Ghats in India is one of the oldest and the world’s most widely used spices and the most important one grown in Sri Lanka. Black pepper is the whole dried fruit and pepper the fruit from which the mescocarp has been removed. Black pepper is used directly as a spice and also in the preparation of its derivatives, pepper oleoresin and black pepper oil. White pepper is used almost exclusively as a direct spice.

In Sri Lanka, pepper can be grown up to an elevation of about 1,000m. in most parts of the Central, North western, Western, Southern, Sabaragamuwa and Uva provinces. Soils with deep, well-drained loam rich in organic matter are suitable for pepper cultivation. Well distributed rainfall of 1,600mm – 2,500 mm annually and a temperature between 24C – 29C are required for successful cultivation.

Pepper Extent

The aggregate extent under pepper in the country according to the Census of Agriculture 2002 was estimated at 68,414 acres or 27,708 hectares which is about 33 percent of total area under EAC cultivation in the Island. Out of the total extent of 27,708 hectares , about 92.1% recorded as holdings that are less than 20 acres or defined as “ Small holdings”

In the instances where it is reported in terms of number of trees, the extent under crop was estimated on the basis of 1675 creepers per hectare ( 680 creepers per acre). In the Census of Agriculture 2002, the number of creepers reported as scattered trees nearly 407 million while the corresponding extent estimated was 3,433 hectares. Out of the total extent of 27,708 hectares , about 92.1% recorded as holdings that are less than 20 acres or defined as “ Small holdings

Cocoa

Introduction

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Cacao (Theobroma cacao) or same the cocoa plant, is a small (4–8 m or 15–26 ft tall) evergreen tree in the family Sterculiaceae (alternatively Malvaceae), native to the deep tropical region of the Americas. Its seeds are used to make cocoa and chocolate.

It requires a humid climate with regular rainfall and good soil. It is an understory tree, growing best with some overhead shade. The leaves are alternate, entire, unlobed, 10–40 cm (4-16 in) long and 5–20 cm (2-8 in) broad. Poisonous and inedible, they are filled with a creamy, milky liquid and taste spicy and unpleasant.

Cardamom

Introduction

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The name "cardamom" is used for herbs within two genera of the ginger family Zingiberaceae, namely Elettaria and Amomum. Both varieties take the form of a small seedpod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds. Elettaria pods are light green in color, while Amomum pods are larger and dark brown.

Both forms of cardamom are used as flavorings in both food and drink, as cooking spices and as a medicine. There were initially three natural varieties of cardamom plants.

  • Malabar (Nadan/Native) - As the name suggests, this is the native variety of Kerala. These plants have pannicles which grow horizontally along the ground.
  • Mysore - As the name suggests, this is a native variety of Karnataka. These plants have pannicles which grow vertically upwards.
  • Vazhuka - This is a naturally occurring hybrid between Malabar and Mysore varieties, and the pannicles grow neither vertically nor horizontally, but in between.

Coffe

Introduction

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Coffee is a brewed beverage prepared from roasted seeds, commonly called coffee beans, of the coffee plant. They are seeds of "coffee cherries" that grow on trees in over 70 countries. It has been said that green coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world behind crude oil.

Coffee berries, which contain the coffee bean, are produced by several species of small evergreen bush of the genus Coffea. The two most commonly grown species are Coffea canephora (also known as Coffea robusta) and Coffea arabica; less popular species are liberica, excelsa, stenophylla, mauritiana, racemosa.

These are cultivated primarily in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Once ripe, coffee berries are picked, processed, and dried. The seeds are then roasted, undergoing several physical and chemical changes. They are roasted to varying degrees, depending on the desired flavour. They are then ground and brewed to create coffee. Coffee can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways.

Cultivation

Coffee is usually propagated by seeds. The traditional method of planting coffee is to put 20 seeds in each hole at the beginning of the rainy season; half are eliminated naturally. Coffee is often intercropped with food crops, such as corn, beans, or rice, during the first few years of cultivation.

Processing

Coffee berries and their seeds undergo several processes before they become the familiar roasted coffee. First, coffee berries are picked, generally by hand. Then they are sorted by ripeness and color and the flesh of the berry is removed, usually by machine, and the seeds usually called beans are fermented to remove the slimy layer of mucilage still present on the bean. When the fermentation is finished, the beans are washed with large quantities of fresh water to remove the fermentation residue, which generates massive amounts of coffee wastewater. Finally, the seeds are dried. The best (but least utilized) method of drying coffee is using drying tables.

The next step in the process is the roasting of the green coffee. Coffee is usually sold in a roasted state, and all coffee is roasted before it is consumed. It can be sold roasted by the supplier, or it can be home roasted.[59] The roasting process influences the taste of the beverage by changing the coffee bean both physically and chemically. The bean decreases in weight as moisture is lost and increases in volume, causing it to become less dense. The density of the bean also influences the strength of the coffee and requirements for packaging.