Commercial Plant Tissue Culture in India—Current Status

in HortScience
Author: J. Thomas1
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  • 1 SPIC Science Foundation, 110, Mount Road, Guindy, Madras, Tamilnadu, India.

In recent years, there has been an explosion in the number of commercial plant tissue culture (TC) units in India. More than 25 such companies have production capacity of two to five million plants per annum. Almost all units are export oriented, but the target crops are the same. Indoor foliage plants dominate the export market. Micropropagation industry in India is providing major support to Indian agriculture in four crop groups: Fruits, ornamentals, spices, forestry/plantation crops. Banana is the largest selling TC fruit crop. TC papaya plants are now marketed for extraction and processing of papain. TC anthuriums, orchids, and gerberas have attained commercial importance. TC rose plants are used as pot plants. Nearly 500 ha are under TC cardamom cultivation in southern India recording 20% to 30% increase in yield. Vanilla cultivation is expected to increase from the existing 50 ha to more than 400 ha in the coming years using TC plants. Sugar companies have in-house units for micropropagation of sugarcane. There is demand for bamboo and eucalyptus for selective reforestation. The TC Industry is constrained by the non-availability of international varieties, high infrastructure and electricity costs, and lack of managers with commercial experience. A shake-up is imperative, during which many of the existing TC units may not survive the year 2000.

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