Defence Agricultural Research Laboratory (DARL)

Defence Agricultural Research Laboratory (DARL)

Historical Background

The importance of high altitude agricultural research was realized when the troops had to be deployed in high altitude and snow-bound areas. The first Prime Minister of India, Late Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru wrote to the renowned botanist, Late Prof. Boshi Sen, the then Director, Vivekanand Laboratory, Almora in January 1960.

“At my suggestion, our Minister for Food and Agriculture has asked the Indian Council of Agricultural Research to place a sum of rupees ten thousand at your disposal . This is to enable you to carry out some research work about growing suitable crops etc. in the Ladakh region. The first step would, I imagine, be for you to send some competent person to Ladakh to find out what the state of affairs there is. He should go first to Leh and discuss matter with the Deputy Commissioner and others there. Later, he should go by an Army plane to forward areas and find out the conditions there. He can then report to you. It might be desirable to have a small research centre at Leh itself under your supervision. The sooner such action is taken, the better……”

Following his directives, a survey of Ladakh region was undertaken to find out the possibilities of setting up an Agricultural Research Station, in the high altitude area of the Himalaya.
The work on the project was originally initiated in April 1960 under the aegis of Indian Council of Agricultural Research, by establishing a research unit in Leh with opening of a detachment in Almora (UA).

It was definitely the beginning of high altitude agricultural research in India. However, owing to logistic problems, the project was transferred to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in July 1962, thereby heralding a new approach in the Defence Strategy of DRDO. The Detachment at Almora was upgraded to an independent Agricultural Research Unit (ARU) in January 1970.

Realizing the indispensability of encompassing the diversified agro-ecological zones of Central Himalayas, field stations were opened in the remote border areas at Auli (3142 m) and Pithoragarh (1524m) in April 1972, with the controlling office at Almora (1530 m).

Another detachment was established at Harsil (3243 m) in May 1973 and transit base at Haldwani (333 m) in June 1981 to provide logistic support for undertaking research work in difficult areas. The Agricultural Research Unit (ARU) was upgraded to the status of a Laboratory and re-designated as Defence Agricultural Research Laboratory (DARL) in 1984. The training center at GRTU Raiwala (340 m), Dehradun district, opened in January 1990, is actively engaged to execute various ongoing programmes.

At the instance of the then Chief of Army Staff, Gen S.F. Rodrigues, PVSM, VSM, ADC, the research and development work on vegetable cultivation and broiler production was undertaken in cold desert of 36 sector (Himachal Pradesh) in 1991 to solve the logistics of supplies with respect to fresh vegetables and broiler chickens to armed forces. The laboratory was shifted to Haldwani (333 m) in August 1991 and subsequently to Pithoragarh (1524 m) in September 1996.

The R&D work was extended to Araba in Barmer (Rajasthan) in 1998 to screen salt tolerant vegetable cultivars utilizing brackish water released from ED plant. In August 2001, integrated approach of agro-animal husbandry practices had been applied and the developed technologies were demonstrated in Deemapur district of Nagaland for socio-economic upliftment of rural masses.

Multidisciplinary approach on natural bio-resources was taken up besides agricultural research, with a view to bring all round improvement in the inhospitable high altitude areas of Central Himalayas by developing and introducing technologies through research and development efforts.

DARL has actively participated in five Indian Antarctic Expeditions viz., ix, x, xi, xv and xvi organised by Department of Ocean Development. The laboratory has successfully introduced hydroponics and established greenhouse cultivation of vegetables and flowers in polar region for the first time ever in the history of Indian Antarctic Expeditions.

Defence Agricultural Research Laboratory (DARL)


Genetic engineering Osmotin transformed tomato under testing in T4 generation.
Regenerated tomato plants transformed with osmotin gene.
Capsicum transformed with CBF1 gene is under analysis in T1 generation.
Regenerated and confirmed CBF1 transformed plants in cucumber, tomato, snake gourd, long melon.
Cloned and sequenced partial fragment of DREB and GPAT genes from Seabuckthorn.
Differentially expressed genes from winter wheat under cold stress identified, cloning & sequencing in progress.
Generated subtracted cDNA from Lepidium. Construction of library and sequencing in progress.

Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA Fingerprinting Technique

• Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.)
A set of 99 common bean germplasm, collected from central Himalaya, was investigated for their genetic variability using RAPD markers. Ten oligonucleotide primers, selected from 60 initially screened ones, generated 123 amplicon products. Of these, two amplicons were shared by all the accessions whereas, 112 were polymorphic at least in two pair wise comparison. Nine unique bands identified, were as low as 0.32 kb MW to as high as 3.5 kb and were confined to eight accessions. The primer OPF-17 was found to be the most powerful and efficient as it generated a total of 17 bands of which, 15 were polymorphic.

Statistical analysis of RAPD markers data revealed the similarity coefficient from 0.19 to 0.91. Grouping analysis revealed the categorization of 99 accessions into 12 major branches with different levels of similarity. Three branches, namely, branch 2, 3 and 5 out of 12 had only one accession. Branch 1, which consisted of three accessions, was the most divergent as revealed by Jaccard’s similarity coefficient. Branching pattern of these accessions did not show any correlation with morphological data or altitudinal alignment of the accessions. Based on similarity coefficients and grouping analysis, accessions 49, 8, 22, 56 and 84 were found to be very distinct and these can be used for desirable characteristics in breeding programmes for common bean improvement.

• Okra [(Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench]
Variability at molecular level in okra has been studied very little so far. In an attempt to fingerprint the known varieties and account for its genetic variability, RAPD analysis in okra was initiated. Leaves of this vegetable have high mucilaginous content which is acidic polysaccharide, composed of galacturonic and glucuronic acids associated with minerals and do not serve as good explants for DNA extraction. As an alternative, DNA was extracted from seeds and the protocol for DNA extraction using the Cetyle Tri-methyl Ammonium Bromide (CTAB ) buffer and a high salt buffer has been standardized. A total of 60 primers were screened of which, 21showed polymorphism. Analysis was carried out on 1.5 % agarose gels and polymorphism detected on the basis of presence or absence of bands.

• Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum L.)
Fenugreek collected from central Himalaya, was targeted to assess the genetic diversity using molecular tools. Genomic DNA was isolated using CTAB method. 100 Operon 10-mer random primers were screened after standardization of PCR conditions against the genomic DNA of fenugreek as template. 22 primers found to generate clear and sufficient polymorphism were used and RAPD profiles of 54 fenugreek accessions were generated.

• Tomato [Lycopersicon esculentum (L.) Mill.]
Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique was employed to measure the genetic variability and the relationship among 54 genotypes of tomato. The protocol for DNA extraction from young leaves was standardized and DNA was extracted using Cetyle Trimethyl Ammonium Bromide method. The DNA of all the 54 genotypes was purified using Ammonium Acetate method. The quantification of DNA of all the genotypes was done using UV spectrophotometer. Primer screening and PCR are being carried out.

• Varieties/hybrid development
Varieties/hybrids recommended for release at National level

The following vegetable varieties/hybrids were recommended for release in 21st Group meeting on vegetable research (All India Coordinated Vegetable Improvement Programme) held at Anand (Gujarat) from 25 to 28 May, 2003.

Capsicum hybrid DARL-202 having dark green fruits, early maturity, possessing field resistant to Fusarium Wilt with average yield potential of 340 q/ha in open field and 420 q/ha under protected condition.

Garlic variety DARL-52 with average plant height 72.20 cm, maturity 210 days, bulb white creamy, having on an average 20 cloves with average yield of 150 q/ha. The variety is useful for making pickle and sauce.
Hybrids released by State Variety Release Committee

During the State Variety Release Committee Meeting held on 7 March, 2003 at Dehradun(Uttaranchal), the following vegetable hybrids were recommended for release.

Cucumber Hybrid DARL-101 with average plant height 155-160 cm, plant vine type, highly branched with broad leaves, monoecious, fruits cylindrical green, maturity within 50 days, possess field resistance to Powdery Mildew, cold tolerant with average yield 396 q/ha in open field and 522 q/ha in protected condition.

Tomato Hybrid DARL-304 with plant semi-determinate, height 70-75 cm, round oval fruit, dark red after ripening with thick pericarp, maturity within 75 days of transplanting with yield potential of 375 q/ha in open field and 800 q/ha under protected condition.

Hybrid Identified
Cucumber Hybrid DARL-102 with plant height 155-160 cm, vine type, plant highly branched with broad leaves, monoecious, fruits cylindrical, maturity within 55 days, possess field resistance to Powdery and Downy Mildew, cold tolerant with average yield 415 q/ha in open field and 665 q/ha under protected condition. Identified in SVT meeting held at GBPUA&T, Pantnagar on 17.04.2003.

Pea DARL-401
The variety is ofmedium duration, plants are dwarf and much branched with 6-7 seeds per pod. The variety possesses field resistance to Powdery Mildew. The green pod is 135.0 q/ha, while dry seed yield is 15.0 q/ha. Nutritionally, the green edible pea contains 73.5% water, 7.0 g protein, 0.9 g minerals, 9.0 mg ascorbic acid per 100 g fresh weight with TSS of 23.80%.

• Enrichment of Germplasm
2958 accessions of different plant species have been collected from central Himalayan regions. The collected germplasm is under evaluation to identify promising lines for inclusion in crop improvement programme of the laboratory.

Crop production
• Biodegradation of Noxious Waste Materials
Congress grass (Parthenium hysterophorus) and Pine (Pinus roxburghii) needles are obnoxious bio-waste materials posing severe environmental menace. Experiments are being conducted for utilization of these bio-wastes as vermi-compost through bio-dynamics. A multitier vermi-technology has been developed for recycling of bio-wastes in association with cowdung using exotic species of earthworm, Eisenia foetida. Pine needles treated with 4% to 6% urea solution, have been decomposed to develop vermi-compost using exotic species of earthworm.

• Bio-control of Pests in Vegetable Crops
Studies were carried out to develop Trichocards for the control of Lepidopterous pests of cole crops in hills. Corcyra cephalonica which is the host of Trichogramma, was successfully reared under laboratory conditions on maize grains supplemented with Protinex. On this laboratory, reared host bio-agent (Trichogramma) was developed and Trichocards were prepared.

• Mushroom Production Technology
Mushrooms have relatively higher quality proteins containing all the essential amino acids exclusively rich in Lysine which is deficient in cereals. In Button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), the quantities of amino acids range from 0.9 to 9.1 percent of available crude protein whereas in Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus spp.), it ranges from 1.2 to 7.0 percent of crude protein.

DARL has developed suitable technology for production of mushrooms in the hills. Experimental techniques of spawning in saw dust, wheat straw, leaf straw, grains of barley and wheat have been standardised. One strain each of Pleurotus ostreatus, Pleurotus sapius and Pleurotus flabellatus has been selected for further improvement

Insect mushroom (Cordyceps sinensis) was collected from high altitude areas of Dharchula (Pithoragarh) in July, 2002. Attempts are being made to develop culture technique of Cordyceps sinensis under laboratory conditions. Various types of the culture media have been used for the mycelial growth of this fungus under controlled conditions. In order to obtain the master culture of Cordyceps sinensis, the tissue culture technique has been applied by taking the inoculums from various parts of the fungus.

Medicinal and aromatic plants
• TOT of Herbal Products
Polyherbal products for leucoderma, eczema and toothache have been transferred to trade (M/S AIMIL Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi) under TOT programme of DRDO.

Anti-leucoderma ointment and oral dose The polyherbal formulation was developed in the form of ointment and liquid oral dose, taking into consideration the social stigma, limitation of existing therapies and etiology of disease. The product was evaluated on 100 patients with leucoderma (Localista), on the basis of body part affected, sex wise recovery and recovery according to the age of ailment. Maximum recovery was recorded in thorax-hip affected patients while sex wise recovery was better in females below 40 years of age. Patients with minimum age of ailment showed best recovery.

Anti- eczema ointment A polyherbal product for the treatment of eczema or atopic dermatitis was formulated and tried on 50 patients with different clinical features and extent of disease. All the patients under observation recovered within 5 to 70 days, depending on the severity and extent of disease.

Anti-toothache herbal solution (Dardhar) A polyherbal solution to check and treat toothache caused by inflammation of the dental nerves was formulated and evaluated for clinical efficacy at District Hospital and Military Hospital, Pithoragarh. The medication was observed to relieve pain within 5 to 10 minutes.

Formulation of New Herbal Products

Cold and anti-sunburn cream
A herbal product for cold and anti- sunburn has been formulated for use in high altitude areas, where persons face the problem of severe cold, high wind velocity and high intensity of ultra violet radiation. The cumulative effect of these abiotic stresses results in drying of skin, development of cracks and fissures and dark scale formation on the exposed part of body, particularly the hands and face. The snow further aggravates the condition due to reflected normal and UV light.

Keeping the above in view, an attempt has been made to formulate a herbal cream which can give relief from cold and sunburn. In formulation, the plants have been selected on the basis of literature and folklore information having the properties of protective action against cold and sunburn. The cream is a poly- component product, in which 11 plant ingredients encoded as ACS-1 to ACS-11 have been taken.

The product was evaluated for acute and sub-acute dermal toxicity, mucous membrane irritation test and skin sensitization test. The product did not show any toxic sign for above tests upto a limit test dose of 2000 mg/kg body weight. The preliminary clinical efficacy of the product has been evaluated through 25 ITBP Jawans posted at 9,000' and 35 local inhabitants of Mukhwa village (Uttarkashi) located at 10,000'. Feedback information revealed that 90% users found the cream effective against dryness and cracks due to cold and 85% reported it to be effective against sunburn.

Herbal Honey
A polyherbal honey having cardio-protective, hepato-protective, CNS stimulant and protection against throat and mouth apathies has been formulated by conversion of sucrose into fructose (honey sugar). The product is under different stages of standardization and quality evaluation.

Namkeen herbal tea
A polyherbal namkeen tea has been prepared from extracts of 6 plant species. According to the folklore information, these plant extracts have various medicinal properties i.e. protection from cold, cough, digestive disorders; diuretic, anti-spasmodic, anti-cancerous and anthelmintic. The product is under different stages of standardization and quality control. Since this tea does not contain sugar, it can be taken by diabetic patients.

Hypertension is a common health problem of masses now-a-days. Changing food habits and lifestyle of modern man has aggravated this problem to a considerable level. Keeping this in mind, the laboratory has formulated a medicated beverage out of the high value medicinal plants growing widely in the hills. This beverage is found highly beneficial in relaxing hypertension, nerve soothing and as an energizer, refresher and health tonic.

Herbal health drink
Health drink has been prepared from Aloe juice from Aloe vera gel which contains lignin, saponins, anthroquinones, mono and poly saccharides, essential and secondary amino acids, minerals, vitamins and enzymes.

Aloe gel is obtained from freshly harvested mature leaves and stabilized to protect its essential nutritional contents. It is mixed in a definite proportion with concentrated sugar solution enriched with ingredients of 03 herbs and then diluted with water for drink.
Aloe health drink, as per reported literature, is anti-inflammatory, effectively balances and enhances proper immune system function, rebuilds the intestinal protective lining, promotes and accelerates the tissue healing process, increases phagocytosis to ingest foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses, creates tumor necrosis factor which restricts the blood supply to tumors. It is an extremely effective intracellular antioxidant and freeradical scavenger. It is useful in cardiac disorders, respiratory and snow -bite problems, besides being memory enhancer and appetizer.

• Adapted germplasm of dairy cattle for wholesome milk
Adapted germplasm of crossbred dairy cattle with Holstein Friesian blood level 62.50% and Sahiwal blood level 37.50 % is being maintained to provide high pedigree germplasm (Cow calves, heifers and breeding bulls) to local farmers and ex-servicemen in order to raise high yielding animals and upgrading the local cattle for better production and returns.

Studies on minerals profiling and soil-plant-animal relationship are being carried out to develop a warning system about the occurrence of production diseases in order to improve production and reproduction efficiency of dairy cattle in hills.

• Germplasm Centre of German Angora Rabbit
DARL has established a germplasm centre (GPC) of German Angora rabbit under United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) implemented through Ministry of Textile, Govt. of India. Dam and Sire lines with proper breeding records are being maintained in order to reduce inbreeding depression in the stock.

Elite germplasm has been provided to 110 farmers of Munsyari block, a border area of Pithoragarh district. This programme has revolutionized Angora -rabbit keeping in the area. The people of the region have understood the favourable economics and livelihood potential of Angora rabbit farming as the farmers are obtaining about 800-1000 g wool/adult rabbit/year besides 12-14 kits/dam/year. Farmers are processing wool for preparation of woolens like shawls, pullovers, caps etc, which fetch high prices in market. In addition, the germplasm has also been provided to Govt. and Non Govt. organizations.

Development Of Gray Coat Angora Rabbit
Gray coat Angora rabbit (Soviet Chinchila x German Angora) has been developed and BC2 (F2 x German Angora) have been obtained. The fiber diameter in F1, BC1 and BC2 has been to be 15.3µ, 13.0µ and 13.61µ respectively as compared to 12.60µ of German Angora whereas the guard hair percentage has been recorded to be 3.01%, 1.66% and 1.23% respectively in crossbreds as against 1.14 % in German Angora rabbit wool. The wool yield per rabbit per year in crossbred BC2 has been recorded 700-800 g as against 800-1000 g in German Angora. Crossbred Angora rabbit shows better survivability. Further, crossing is being done to enhance wool yield.

•Pisciculture Technology for Central Himalayas
Cantonment fishery
Cantonments of Pithoragarh, Raiwala and Joshimath combining 1.8 ha ponds, are undergoing fresh water pond fishery of exotic species for the welfare of soldiers.

Polyculture fish farming
Technology for composite fish culture have been developed and standardized by the laboratory. Three species, namely, Silver carp, Grass carp and Common carp cultured in the ratio of 30:30:40, have been found suitable, so as to utilize the feeding materials available in all the niches of the pond for maximum productivity. Maximum fish production by the laboratory has been achieved to the tune of 3500 to 4000 kg /ha/year under this system of farming.

Established open and protected vegetable cultivation in Army locations.
Plantation of willow and seabuckthorn carried out.
Developed floriculture for increasing aesthetic environment.
FRP and polycarbonate greenhouse facilities created for off-season vegetable cultivation.

Sadbhavana Programme
Kachan and Chanigund villages adopted by 8 Mountain Division and 8 Maratha LI, were taken up for training and demonstration on crop diversification and adoption of vegetable crops by providing vegetable seeds.

Establishment of popcorn centers at HQ 14 Corps and ‘L’ Sector

Established popcorn centers at Leh HQ 14 Corps, Siachen base camp, Karu (3 Inf Div), Drass (56 Mtn Bde), Biamah (192 Mtn Bde), Fire & Fury complex, Leh, Chumathang (70 Inf. Bde), Khumbathang (8 Mtn Div).
Provided 16.5 q of popcorn, 6 popcorn machine, 6 sealing machines and poly- bags for use of troops during 2005-06.

Rising prices of fossil fuels, dwindling oil reserves and stiff regulations is exhaust emission have reconsidered the substitution of fossil fuel with less polluting and easily available renewable fuel for strategic energy self reliance. Over the recent years, emphasis has been given to biofuels as an alternative source of energy. Recently, DARL has taken initiative in this direction with the following aim.

Collection of elite germplasms (Seed/ Seedling) of J. curcas.
Soil reclamation in Military Farm, Secunderabad.
Nursery raising of J. curcas.
Planting of seedlings/cuttings.
Direct seed sowing.
Jatropha production
Agro-technology for higher yield (SOPs}
Extraction of oil
Mechanical extraction
Up scaling of oil extraction process
-Up scaling of trans-esterification process.
-Saponification process for higher fat contents (up to 5% FFA)
-Two stage trans-esterification process (beyond 5% FFA)
Chemical analysis of oil as per ASTM/ BIS standards
Testing of oil in diesel engines and Field trials with different blending%
Storage/ oxidation studies
Anti-freezer for low temperature usage
Use of bio-diesel in Defence Vehicles, Gensets etc.


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Abhishek said...

Sir/Madam ,
Is the product Anti-leucoderma ointment and oral dose available for other patients than the 100 patients suffering from the disease? and how can i have the product ? what is the procedure?

Abhishek said...

is the Anti-leucoderma ointment and oral dose available for the general public? what is the procedure to start with the treatment?
thank you


Sir, we want to know further about the Anti-leucoderma ointment and oral dose through polyherbal formulation developed by DARL,

Whom to contact

H Patro


Sir, I want to know about the Anti-leucoderma ointment and oral dose The polyherbal formulation was developed in the form of ointment

more regarding success rate etc

H Patro, SO/G