Cinnamon tree grows well in the central region of the country. It is not an indigenous tree but originates from tropical Asia. The bark and the leaves of Cinnamomum are commonly used as spices in home kitchens and their distilled essential oils or synthetic analogy are used as flavouring agent in the food and beverage industry.
- Cinnamon can be grown by planting seeds or cinnamon balls.
- Sandy loam soils with a mixture of humus or vegetative mould are needed to get sweet and fragrant bark and Proximity to water, humid conditions and salty water are good for the crop.
- Cinnamon is propagated mainly by seeds and rarely by cuttings. Seeds should be sown fresh after the removal of the pulp.
- Seeds are sown thickly in nurseries where germination takes two to three weeks.
- When the seedlings are four months old, they are transplanted into poly bags. After 10 to 12 months, they are planted in the main field.
- Cattle manure or compost at 20kg per tree, per year may be applied.
- Inorganic fertilisers may be applied in the first year and gradually increased for grown up plants of 10 years or more.
- Regular weeding is done in the early stages of growth.
- Plants are pruned at two to three years. Side shoots growing from the base are cut to encourage growth of more side shoots until the whole plant assumes the shape of a bush.
- Cinnamon is pruned every other year.
- Cinnamon trees can grow up to 50 feet high. However, trees for commercial use are usually trimmed to a smaller height for easier harvest. A healthy tree can produce Cinnamon bark for about 45 years.
The varieties of cinnamon include the following:
- Cinnamomum verum
Harvesting and processing
For the preparation of quills, the plants are harvested three years after planting when the shoots have grown 2 to 2.5cm in diameter and 1.5 to 2m in length.
If the bark separates readily, the cutting is taken immediately in the early morning with sharp knife to prevent breaking and splitting of cut ends.
The first harvest may yield 30 to 50kg quills per hectare, per year. Better harvests are expected after 10 years when 170 to 200kg of dried quills per hectare, per year is obtained.
The challenges faced by the farmers include the following:
- There are birds that feed on the fruits.
- The leaf spot and die back diseases that are caused by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides.
- The grey blight caused by Pestalotiopsis palmarum and Sooty mould caused by Phragmocapinus beetle.
Uses of Cinnamon
Cinnamon has the following uses:
- The bark and leaves have a strong aroma which is used to spice food incense, perfumes, liquors and in pharmaceutical preparations, especially to mask the unpleasant taste.
- Cinnamon bark also contains oil.
This oil is the organic compound that gives cinnamon its odour and flavour. The oil got from the leaves is used in the manufacture of cheaper perfumes used in soap, tooth pastes and hair oil.
- Cinnamon is also a modifier in the flavouring industry.
- Cinnamon has antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, antispasmodic and anti-fungal properties.
- Cinnamon is rich in iron, manganese, calcium and fiber. The cinnamon bark is also packed with powerful antioxidants called polyphenols that help to lower blood sugar and regulate blood pressure.
- A mixture of pounded Cinnamon and honey can cure a sore throat.
- The bark is also used to treat digestive problems, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, angina (chest pain), menstrual problems, backaches, common cold and arthritis.
- For its ability to kill bacteria, Cinnamon is used in toothpaste, mouth wash and oral hygiene products.
High quality grade Cinnamon receives a premium price in the market.
Cinnamon oils are separated by steam or hydro distillation.