We rarely see the flower of Potato or at
least people of these regions are not familiar with potato flower. During the
year 1993, I had a chance to see and eye witness the flower of potato in
Horticulture seed production farm at Nagicherra, Agartala, West Tripura.
Again, during the 1998 and 2000, I had
that opportunity to see the potato flower in potato field of south India.
Potato as I know is native and originated in Andes hills but potato now already
made India as its second home.
What I learnt is; potato flowering depends
on day length that is wherever, there is sufficient day length, flowering
induces. In Tripura, since potato is cultivated during the winter season it
gets no sufficient sunlight due to shorter day during the cultivation time so,
there happens to be only chance flowering.
Now, coming back to my first encounter of
potato flower in Nagicherra, Agartala, West Tripura, scientist under the
patronisation of State Government had taken up a pioneering move for production
of True Potato Seeds.
A good infrastructural facility had been
created for production of true potato seeds starting from provision for
artificial light to seed treatment and experimental trial etc. I had witnessed
the some of the controlled activities that are being required for production of
true potato seeds.
Here, what the scientist does are: through
enhancement of total day length potato plants are induced for flowering. On
flowering, two parental lines of potato are cross fertilised in controlled
condition and a seed thus produced is termed as True Potato Seed.
The seeds are very minute, thin and light
weight; I find its similarities with Brinjal and chilly seeds at least, as far
as shape is concerned. Scientists, there at Nagicherra Horticulture seed
production farm had deliberated the techniques and advantage of using True
Potato Seeds for production of potato in the state and else where.
It is said that one of the most important
advantage in using True Potato Seeds is total cost of production could be
significantly reduced and total yield in unit area would be more compare to
traditional system of Potato Cultivation.
It was deliberated that total cost of
production could be reduced significantly up to 55 per cent compare to
traditional system of using seed tubers. Yield level had been projected up to
35 metric tons per hectare.
Here of course, requirement in terms of
other basic inputs like fertilisers (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium),
manures and plant protection chemicals remains or almost remain same. Now coming
to the next most important aspect that is actual cultivation of potato by using
True Potato Seeds and how it is achieved.
This involves 2(two) stages of operation
one, raising of potato seedlings two, cultivation of potato seedlings in the
of Potato Seedling: -
This involves lots of care start from seed
bed preparation to nursing of Potato seedlings. Raised seed beds are prepared
with lots of tilling and mixing up of manures etc. In the raised seedbeds of
standard dimension (length, width and height) True Potato Seeds are sown in the
rows with sufficient space in between seed to seed and row to row.
Immediately after sowing of True Potato
Seeds in raised seed beds, watering are must but care should be taken that in
the process of watering of seedbeds, no seeds are displaced and uncovered.
True Potato Seeds as sown in the raised
seed beds should be provided shed for conserving and maintaining soil moisture.
In due course of time, seeds are germinated and tiny seedlings come out.
For enhancing seedling growths, foliar
application of urea (0.01 %) is advocated after 2(two) weeks on every alternate
day. When seedling reaches to the 25 to 28 days old with 3 to 4 leaves, it is
considered to be right time for transplanting in main field.
of Potato Seedling in the main field:-
By the time, seedlings are raised, main
field has to be prepared with thorough tilt and all the inputs have be applied
and finely mixed.
One of the important preparations which
need to be done at later stage of field preparation is making ridges and
furrows. Ridges of 15 centimetres height and furrows of 50 to 60 centimetres
apart in east and west direction are made.
One day before transplanting of potato
seedlings, main field is irrigated. Care should be taken that ridges are not
collapsed during irrigation that is to say that flooding is not advocated. The
furrows which are provision for water channel should be irrigated in 7.5
centimetres height so that ridges are soaked but not swamped.
In the next day, potato seedlings are
transplanted in the northern edge of the ridge at half the total height (at 7.5
centimetre height) of ridge. The idea is to protect the seedling from the
scorching sunlight. The next follows as usual to normal package of practices.
and present trends of True Potato Seeds:-
True Potato Seeds is a project that was
under taken to revolutionise the potato cultivation in the state by reducing
the cost of cultivation and maximising the yields. However, after twenty years
of its existence and operation, how much it has penetrated and influenced the
potato farmers of the state is important question.
It has been emphasised that True Potato
Seeds that are produced in the farm fetches good price and demands in the
foreign countries. But, how much it has revolutionised in the state is some
what professional do not like to mention.
In Tripura, potato growing belts are south
and west districts where potato production is maximum. My analysis on the
aspect of adoption of True Potato Seeds will indicate or show the picture.
Potato cultivation by using True Potato
Seeds is very meagre and reason for sluggish moment in adoption may be many
however, I would like to point some factors that could be acting as barrier.
• New practises involves 2(two) stages
of operation so is time consuming and no way required less labour component.
• Transplanting involves lots of sensitive
operation which normal farmers failed to activate.
• Field preparation needs extra boost
and also demanding for operation like making ridges and furrows with controlled
• Many farmers end up with production of
tuber lets sized potato tuber instead of marketable sized.
Here, the first two steps that is raising
of seedling and transplanting of seedlings in the main fields are more crucial.
It is here, most farmers’ fails, therefore, scientist should work on these two
areas for devising alternate methods which is pragmatic and practical and also
easy to follow.
My opinions in these two areas are; the transition
from seedbed to main field should be easy and less risky. It may well be tried
by adopting poly bag system of raising seedling which would be easier and less
risky in terms of survival of potato seedling in the main field.
Well, a pioneering approach is achieved
but roads to reach the destination are yet to be travelled.