Monday, 19 March 2012

Pigeon pea cultivation: Nobody Bothers Pigeon pea, the Age Old Jhum Crop of Tripura.

     My knowledge and geographical limitations did not help me to know much about Pigeon pea until I visited southern state fifteen years ago. It was on my visit to the Pigeon pea growing belt or otherwise “Pulse Bowl the Gulbarga district of Karnataka”, I came to know that Pigeon pea could be cultivated in such a way that I never imagined.
      Pigeon pea in those areas is cultivated in large acreage by the farmers of that state due to its demands and popularity. In contrast, here at home, Pigeon pea, it is in the Jhum, very few people even know or bother Pigeon pea.
     It is in the month of December to March; some green Pigeon pea pods are found and sold in the local market for use as a vegetable.
     In Tripura, it is preferred (green pigeon pea pods) by only 30% of the population who consumes green pigeon pea pod as vegetable. Even the people who are actually taking green pigeon pea pod as vegetable do not know the other important quality of the pigeon pea.
    In the state Tripura, very few people know about pigeon pea, leave alone its cultivation in large or mass scale. In Tripura, pulses means or at least, what people know is, lentil & Mung and Sula excepting these, there is no deliberation, whispering for pigeon pea, I have never heard anything around this pigeon pea.
      In the state, pigeon pea is cultivated by the indigenous people, in earlier days in the Jhum and now, in homestead land. But, many people did not even know that it is one of the important pulse crop and vegetable protein supplements.
    Of course, it would be unjust to say plainly that very few people know pigeon pea; city dwellers may know ‘TurDal’ a processed pigeon pea bean which is available in the shops of the city areas but it is restricted within that periphery only.
      Pigeon pea, available in the state is of traditional and long duration variety. This pulse crop is grown during the month of May to June in the Jhum along with many other Jhum crops however, bearing of pod of pigeon pea is probably the last after the harvest of Jhum paddy and many other wide array of Jhum crops.
     One important characteristic of the traditional type of pigeon pea is; it grows up to fifteen to sixteen feet height with many branches and sub-branches, during bearing time; it looks very beautiful due to its profuse bearing nature.
    It is probably due to such profuse bearing character that only fewer numbers of pigeon pea plants are maintained in homestead land in case of plain people.
     There are several improved varieties of pigeon pea, short duration to high yielding varieties which are grown by the farmers of the other states where pigeon pea is traditional crop.
    There are no much natural enemies of pigeon pea crop in the state, one insect pest that is found to attack the pigeon pea is; pod borer, excepting this; no other major natural menace are observed.
     Of course, pigeon pea pod borer is in fact one of the prominent menace in the traditional pigeon pea growing areas.
      The fact is; pigeon pea is established crop in one sense because, it is in the state since long time ago and suited to the soil and climatic condition. The only problem is; it is not making any difference in term of its importance and large scale cultivation.
     The plant is acclimatized very well as it is coming up very successfully without any care. The protein rich content of the pigeon pea should be known to all for creating interest to the mass people of the state and people should know the relative quality of pigeon pea with other established pulses available in the market.
      Another aspect is; pigeon pea being the leguminous crop has the inherent capability for fixing of nitrogen from the atmosphere to the root zone through nitrogenous bacteria and it should in fact be popularized in the state for its dual importance.
     The land remaining fallow or not suitable for paddy cultivation and also other crops should be put to use for production of pigeon pea as well as improving the soil health for the next crop.
    The aspect of protein rich content of pigeon pea bean should be popularized for creating awareness amongst the farmers and people in general.
     Time has come to know the importance of crops in the backyards.
                                        Agrtitangkol dated 21.02.2012

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