Friday, 27 January 2012

Potato Cultivation though Tuberlets not True Potato Seeds! A Reality Check.

          On the other day while I was making a round in one vegetable market at Agartala, Tripura; one thing that clearly drawn my interest out of many available staff in the market is “Tuberlet” produced out of True Potato seed. 
         Of course I have come to know the fact on conversation with many potato farmers of the state (limited interview).
        Tuberlets, as secondary produce (presume) used to be there even in earlier days but the fact is this tuberlets some times even fetches even higher market price compare to normal sized potato and same is the trend even now-a-days.
         However, tuberlet availability is always minimum compare to the normal sized potato. This is due to the fact that they are secondary produce in the sense that this tuberlets are part of the whole lot of a plant but did not get sufficient time to attain the full form or nutrient for achieving its normal size before being harvested.
         Or these are sorted out of whole lot at the time of harvest of potato which is quite normal everywhere.
          At present, market seems to be full of Potato tuberlets produced out of True Potato Seed; this is evident due to the fact that color of the tuberlet skin is reddish.
         It is said that colour of the skin of true potato produced out of true potato seed is reddish. In case of other varieties, color of the tuberlet is pale or light red at maximum.
          This tuberlet do not make any sense as far as profitability of potato grower is concerned, it is due to the fact that these tuberlets were produced out of maneuver of farmer intended to produce sizeable potato but unfortunately ends with tuberlets. This results in loss of farmer for being producing less quantity of in a potato in an unit area.
         Now, if we look into the whole aspect of potato cultivation through true potato seed then we find many crucial steps that come into picture.
         In my earlier post titled “True Potato Seed, a long journey ahead” I did mention some steps for potato cultivation through true Potato Seed. In that post, I have also mentioned two critical steps for potato cultivation through True Potato Seed but one critical / Step did not find mention in that post that is in fact making whole difference to the farmers in adoption of True Potato Seed.
         It has been flouted that potato cultivation through True Potato seed can reduce the total cost of cultivation of potato in significant level but the very phrase of “Potato cultivation through True Potato Seed” did not match in actual field level due to the fact that it is not the direct True Potato Seed to marketable sized potato; in between marketable sized potato and True Potato Seeds, there is tuberlet which is making a whole difference in potato cultivation through True Potato Seed.
          The phrase may should instead be appropriate as “Potato cultivation through Tuberlets” that can minimize the total cost of cultivation of Potato due to the fact that farmer can have multiple Tuberlets in a kilogram of seed material compare to normal sized potato seed material. This seed material (Tuberlets) can be grown separately using true potato seed for meeting the seed material requirement.
           From the own version of Potato farmer; “True Potato Seed although helps in some ways or others but involves many sensitive critical operation which indeed are difficult to perform by ordinary farmer having less farm logistics and inventories”
          “They take up True Potato Seedling for fulfilling the seed material requirement for next season; they keep those tuberlets in local cold storage up to the period of next season of potato cultivation. This is due to the fact that getting the marketable sized potato from the plants grown out of True Potato Seed is difficult in first season”.
            Another aspect, potato farmer express is; “duration of potato crop, out of True Potato Seed is comparatively more than Jyoti which is popular in the region. And, shape of the potato produced out of True Potato Seed is of not nice looking compare to the Jyoti etc”.
            Well, shape does not matter as long as the production is optimum or otherwise in satisfactory level now, the main question is; how to minimize all these procedures to be more farmers friendly?
           At present the steps for potato cultivation through true potato seed are as follows:-
         1st Phase: - Raising of seedling in seed bed
         2nd Phase:-Transplantation seedling in main field
         3rd Phase:-Harvesting of tuberlets
         But, in reality, another step also involves in the process of potato cultivation through True Potato Seed:-
       1st Phase:-Raising of Seedling in seed bed using true potato seeds
       2nd Phase:-Transplantation of seedling in main field
       3rd Phase:-Harvesting of tuberlets
       4th Phase:-storage of seed materials (tuberlets) in cold storage for next season
       5th Phase: - cultivation of potato using tuberlets
       Now, the first two steps that is; raising of seedling and transplantation in main field are basic part of the field operation but waiting for another year for using of tuberlets for use in main field for cultivation of potato is matter of wary.
       Well, many argues that farmer can raise True Potato Seeds Seedling nursery in the small plot of land for the objective to produce tuberlets for next year’s seed material requirement and in similar fashion both main field cultivation through last year’s preserved Tuberlets and for next year; True Potato Seed nursery vis-à-vis.
         That means, in any given season; farmers would be simultaneously using both True Potato Seed and Tuberlets for nursery and main field for present and next year’s requirement.
          All those processes or procedures although seems to be easy and can be maneuvered but, they are very much antagonistic for acting against the interest of the farmer.
         These are the factors which are acting against very adoption of True Potato Seed in the state. The scientist should be working on these steps for minimizing all these procedures for effective adoption by the farming communities.
     Agritangkol dated 25.01.2012 at 6.25 P.M

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Stingless Bee, a small hymenoptera Insect: Less for honey but more for productivity of crops.

        In my earlier posts titled “Apis dorsata, the giant honey bee….” and “……….a ray of hope for revival of Apis dorsata and Apis cerana indica” I have mentioned the position of these two distinguishable honey bee species now, lets see the position of locally known KUSUMOL, the stingless bee. 
       This tiny insect used to be found hovering the flowers for nectar etc along with other insects during the blooming time of different flowers in Tripura but became a rare insect now-a-days.

An encounter with Stingless Bee:

        I have a special relation with this tiny honey producing insect for the fact I had tried to domesticate this insect during my early childhood days with lots of extra activities. In those days, this insect was very prominent like other honey producing insect viz; Apis dorsata and Apis cerana indica.
        Well, I could not or not tried to venture with other major honey producing insect due to the fact that all these had given swelling sting that I hardly forget so, I started with this small and tiny hymenoptera insect “Stingless Bee”, I had hived this insect along with its brood in a small earthen pot with a hole and placed it in a pomello fruit tree. 
        Incidentally or co-incidentally, that time it was the blooming period of pomello and other fruit plants in my area. However, I could not resist my self to see the actual development that has been taking place inside that earthen pot so, I opened that earthen pot after 20(twenty) days of hiving. What I could see was really astonishing rather it was a moment of self achievement that I could do something even in my childish deed also.
         After opening the cover of the earthen pot, I could see that there was lot of activity that has been taking place; there were activities of new brood rearing, developing of new sac like comb and honey sac that has been developed on the wall of the earthen pot. 
         I had tasted after checking the honey sac longing on the wall of the earthen pot. One thing I observed was; their combing pattern; from my observation, it seems to be mixed that means there is no definitive parts for rearing of young brood and honey sacs . They were distributed here and there in the whole structure of hive.
        As far as danger in dealing with this insect is that, they do not pose any danger to the intruder. Their mode of attack to the intruder is by way of sticking with gum like substance which I encountered at the time of my intrusion into their hive. My hairs were in fact glued with the gummy substances by these insects.


           This insect used to make hive in the crack and crevices of big trees and also in the hollowed stone in the jungle or any other place where there is abundance resources for nectar, pollen and resins. This insect; their buzzing activities used to be seen at the blooming time of different fruit plants like litchi, Mango, Pomello, Ber and many other forest trees in the natural ecosystem. But, during this time that is early blooming period of mango, I could hardly notice this stingless bee hovering mango flower in Agartala area.

Stingless Bee, in the eyes of people:

         One of the characteristic of Stingless Bee is; they used to make funneling structuring at the entrance of the hive, this protruding material are made up of wax like substance collected from different plants and same is also used for comb making.
         People were less concerned for their honey or their usefulness in pollination of different flowers but they feel their usefulness for wax or otherwise gummy substances for smearing the thin cotton thread for enhancing the strength of that thin cotton thread. This smoothen thread is used as required accessories for making home clothes and, also this strengthened thread is also used for making fishing thread.

Present Scenario of Stingless Bee in Tripura

        Stingless bee like many other major honey producing species is in the state of declining condition and it is for the fact that this insect has never ever been considered by the people (at least by the researcher of the state) as one of the beneficial insect to be considered for further exploration.
        Why it should draw attention by the researcher of the state is of course another question that may come to the mind and it may be genuine in one sense because, there are many major beneficial or intrusive insects that require serious attention. But fact also that we hardly realize the other usefulness of this tiny stingless bee; it is less for honey more for production of different fruits or other cultivated crops.
        There is report that this stingless bee used to be a source for honey in many countries(south American) but now, in other countries too the trend for depending on this insect is declining due to introduction of more productive honey producing species like Apis mellifera.
        Now as far as position of this species in Tripura perspective is concerned, as already mentioned, very few know (mostly urban people) the insect let alone the usefulness of this insect. 
        The insect which used to be found in the cracks and crevices of trees and visiting different flowers are no more exist in the way that used to be in earlier days.
People of the state are yet to realize the usefulness of this insect that this insect does to the betterment of the farmers in particular and people in general. 
       This stingless bee may be minor producers of honey but their pollination potential is undoubtedly one of the major advantages that we hardly realize. However, time has come to feel the need of various useful insect as far as production of different cultivated crops and their dependence on various insects for effective pollination and optimum production of different cross pollinated crops and also the self pollinated crops too.
         Time has come for all of us make serious efforts to preserve this stingless bee for greater cause if not for honey.
     Agritangkol dated 25.01.2012 at 2.50 P.M

Monday, 23 January 2012

Soil Test; State Wise Awareness Campaign is Need of the hour in Tripura.

          People associated or long associated with Agriculture farming may declare that they are well conversant on every aspect of crop production including soil health or otherwise fertility level of the crop field.
         In certain extent, of course farmer can feel the field or at least what is happening based on the experience of previous crops and its productivity.
However, it is only assumption / presumption that farmers can predict that their crop field is deficient of certain soil nutrients so is less production or productivity of the given crop in the given season.
         Needless to say that success of a farmer in the pursuit to better crop production largely depends on good soil condition or other wise soil fertility status. Good soils along with other biotic and a-biotic factor are the prerequisites for a good crop and economic prosperity of farmers.
         But, the aspect of soil test for soil fertility analysis has never been a topic that has largely been discussed by the stake holder. In Tripura, soil fertility analysis is one such subject that has never been taken care off by the farming communities. Reason of such situation is not reported or at least, it is not tried as to why this spate of condition prevails amongst the farming communities.
        At present, the concept of soil test is restricted only within the departmental booklet/leaflets illustrating its importance on crop production and dos and don’t etc. but as far as field level implementation; there is wide gap between the concept and field level adoption by the farming communities of the state.
         Reality is; soil test through which a farmer can get comprehensive data or report of his / her soil’s nutrient condition has never been done by the farmer. For that matter, the state extension mechanism has some thing do and answer for. 
       The concept of soil test is not new one; it is in fact one of the oldest concept that existed since the mankind ever felt the need for supply of external nutrient supplements to the nutrients deficient soil but this age old concept is yet to be realized by the farming communities of the state.
         In last twenty years(Since, 1985 to 2011) some observation in particular area of south Tripura district viz; Kakraban, Mirza and Tulamura (now Gomti) reflects that there was no report for slightest moment for “soil test” for finding out the soil nutrient status by the faming communities on their own. This type of knowledge stagnation in the farming sector will not result any good thing. 
        Of course, there are several interventions in the form of new scheme and new techniques that have been tried and pursued to reach to the farming communities by the state department but one of the crucial aspects that is soil test has never come to the forefront of crop production.
         The department of agriculture should seriously pursue the matter for spreading the concept through awareness campaign amongst the farmers. Unless, our farmers realize the very importance of soil test for better crop production then the whole persuasion for sufficient production will never materialize.
         Farmers should have the knowledge of detail soil nutrients status before taking up the crop production, farmers should have ability to take decision based on the fertility level of the soil and they should know the process of restoring the soil health through the comprehensive test data obtained from the soil test.
         The time has come to arrange for state wide awareness campaign on soil test and its importance in the crop production. The state department of agriculture being the concerned department may devise a scheme for reaching the farming communities in spreading this important aspect to the very farming communities of the state otherwise, the whole campaign for self reliant would remain in the stagnant condition.