Fenugreek (Trigonellafoenum-graecum L.), is an annual forage legume as well as a spice crop grown extensively in South Asian countries like India, Pakistan and China. The crop is now also grown in other parts of the world such as North Africa, Mediterranean Europe, Middle East, Australia, US, Canada and Argentina.
The plant has been found to be rich in a number of important plant chemicals like diosgenin, fenugreekine, galactomanan, 4-hydroxy isoleucine to name only a handful. Due to the presence of these important phytochemicals, the seeds and leaves of the plant has been found to be clinically effective in the treatment of a number of diseases, the most important being reducing blood glucose and blood cholesterol levels.
The plant has been used over several centuries in ancient Ayurvedic practices, traditional Chinese medication and Tibetan medicines. Modern clinical trials have also established without doubt the efficacy of this medicinal herb in the treatment of several human and animal diseases. Hence, it has been in high demands in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and functional food industries.
Sri Lanka with adverse agro-climatic regimes has ideal weather conditions for growing the crop in the inland dry or semi-dry areas. The crop can be utilized in Sri Lanka in the local crop cycles as a nitrogen fixing, organic manure in addition to serving as a low water requiring industrial crop as important source of spice and forage as well as for the global market niche of the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and functional food industries.
Saikat Kumar Basu