Saturday 17 March 2012

Areca Nut Cultivation: Potential to Increase the Farm Income


      A popular nut produced from the Areca catechu is long associated with the farmers, non-farmers and hobbyist of the state. Popularity of the Areca nut could be gauged from its omnipresence in every household.
    Almost every household possesses with fewer areca nut palms in the homestead or around the bundhs of the farm pond. And people chewing nut with beetle leaves every now and then.
     Utility or usage of areca nut is mainly for chewing with beetle leaves which is quite prevalent in the state and, also for that matter in hole North-eastern states (Disclaimer, chewing of Areca nut may be injurious to health ).
     People of the state knew every pros and cons of Areca Nut cultivation due to its long association and usages.

Present state of Condition:

    Presently, Areca Nut cultivation is not around or in the state of condition for furthering with new and sizeable plantation, there are no formidable trends in replacing the age old Areca Nut palm with new seedlings.
    Whatever has been available now looks to be stagnant due to lack of farmers / peoples’ interest in establishment of new Areca Nut cultivation in good acreage.
    It is not that areca nut palm are not available but the general trends towards its popularization through large scale cultivation is the matter of the fact as it is not observed.
    There is peculiarity in the spread of Areca nut cultivation in hill and plain areas well, it is expected that areca nut plantation would come up successfully in the plain areas because of its suitability for maintenance but in reality, it is not happening in the plain areas. On the other side, Areca nut is coming up in the hill areas quite successfully despite of topographic limitations.
    Take the example of Jampui hill, in Jampui Hill, places like Vaisam, Hmanchuwang has good numbers of areca nut plantation covering huge tracts of lands. People of the area had taken up Areca Nut cultivation in large scale even though the land is of restrictive type due to sloppy terrain.
    But in rest of the areas that is including many plain areas, there is no large scale plantation. The trend is, people or farmer for the sake of requirement or family consumption, takes up Areca nut cultivation in fewer numbers in the homestead land.
   The result is; they never realized the potentiality of Areca nut in terms of its economic profitability if taken up in the large scale in the given plots of land.

Present market condition:

    In this particular time while writing this post, Areca nut market is buoyant and upwardly. In the village or rural area “One Pon of Areca nut is sold in rupees fifty which is quite profitable and economical looking to the productivity of less cared or nurtured Areca nut palm of the concerned (eighty numbers of ripened nut before processing is equivalent to one PON, a local unit in case of Areca nut.).
     Reason of such market realization is due to demand supply gap. There is shortage of supply compared to demands.
     In Tripura, areca nut requirement is said to be fulfilled by outside supply (of course, there is no official record) and, it is probably due to such situation, market buoyancy has been persisting now-a-days.

Future looks bright:

     Areca nut, it is probably one of the easy to establish plantation crops available in the state. It is even sometimes observed that, some areca nut seedlings naturally comes up with least botheration and care by the farm owners or others. However, it is only large plantation through which market realization would come.

Areca nut profitability can be realized in the following ways:

       • Areca nut cultivation in acreage in the upland or high land
       • Utilization of otherwise fallow land for Areca nut cultivation
       • Planting of Areca nut seedling in and around the bundh area and also in other areas as an inter crop.
  Another positive aspect of Areca nut plantation is; if taken up in acreage would also be suitable for other crawler or line crops like Black pepper and Beetle leaves thereby maximizing the farm profit from the Areca nut cultivation.
                                           Agritangkol dated 20-02-12

Thursday 15 March 2012

Technology Transfer: Real Professionalism through Activity Oriented Approach

     Well, it is not meant to look the other side of the any individual, group, organization or department.
     This is however, a journey to illustrate the real condition that often makes a mark in the mind of the both target group and general public due to un-expected proficiency or efficiency reflected in the condition which was supposed to be a successful one especially when it is under the care of the concerned professionals.
     It has been five to six month; I have been observing very closely a banana plantation coming up in the road side in the sloppy hills of the national highway.
     From the hoarding or signboard mounted near the road reflecting the newly established plantation indicates that it is coming up under the departmental scheme and, taken care off under the guidance of the professionals of the concerned department.
    I have mentioned couple of times in my earlier posts about the possibilities and promising future of horticultural crops in the suitable soil in the sloppy hills of Tripura.
   In the same line with which I was anticipating and desiring to see, one banana plantation was started in that sloppy hill in the area as indicated above.
     I was expecting that by the time of my next visit, I would be fortunate to see the profuse growth of banana seedlings in that very plantation. But, this is not being the case, in my last observation on 14.02.2012 and 16.02.2012, what I have seen is; stunted, dried up banana seedling beautifying the whole plantation area.
    The field looks to be excessively dry (which is of course normal at this time of dry spell), soil around the seedling is also in the same condition.
       There was no sign of conserving the soil moisture in and around the banana seedling. There was absolutely no growth of banana seedling. In one word, the above referred banana plantation was not to be considered as a successful one.
    What was expected is, as far as I am concerned; the plantation should have been well managed in all respects for creating congenial conditions for inducing profuse growth of the banana seedlings for a successful plantation to come up.
       The idea of going with banana plantation in that designated field was of course fine but what it lacks is;
    • There is no mechanism to preserve the soil moisture during water stress period
    • There is no facility to irrigate the banana seedling (if the plantation is also meant for field level  demonstration)
    • The field is totally vacant of any species of either minor herbs or shrubs to protect the banana seedling from the scorching sunlight and preserving soil moisture too.
What I think the professionals miss is;
   • Professional should have give planned move with prioritized follow up action for the plantation to come up successfully in any given circumstances.
   • Professionals by not giving much importance in the pre-planned follow up operation for ensuring the plantation to come up successfully had also missed another aspects that professional failed to realize; they failed to showcase their expertise through this plantation that was taken up in suitable place for easy exposure. So is creating awareness and interest.
  It could have been a good field demonstration plot to showcase the general people for increasing or creating interest to the thousands passerby by showing them the successful plantation but remained a missed opportunity.
      Therefore, professionals should have the genuine professionalism to showcase their expertise in already stagnant agriculture sector.
     Agritangkol dated 18.02.2012 at 03.45 P.M

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Goatery; Profitable Low Cost Venture in Rural Tripura

    Rural Tripura, there are changes and changes are normal in every emerging rural areas of the state as well as the country. Some low cost, other investment worthy and this is the trend in the ever changing rural environment of Tripura.
     Of course, some changes taken place at the cost of others and some remain at the mercy of the mighty; all these factors are in fact under the factorial change agents in any given rural environment.
    Let us see one aspect that could bring some changes with economic improvement of rural people. Here at Tripura, as narrated earlier more than ninety percent of the total population prefers non-vegetarian food, and the sources of such non vegetarian items are Fish, hen, Duck, Goat & Sheep, etc.
    However, of these various sources, most prominent are fish, chicken, goat-mutton and pork in terms of total quantum requirement and supply. Incidentally, Goat-mutton is one of the most popular in terms of its acceptance and demand by the people of the state.
    Fortunately or unfortunately, goat-mutton is also one such item which is sold in approximately for ten dollars per kilo gram which is at per capita income of the people really excessive for most of the people of the state. This demand even in the sky rocketing price is due to love for such gastronomic juice enhance.

Reason of such excessive price is mainly due to the followings:-

• There are no organized Goatery farms in the state so is less in supply. Now, whatever, goat-mutton is available are all sourced from the rural areas.
• Demand for Goat–Mutton is due to the fact that it is considered pure so demand is perennial and even increasing year on year basis.
    Here of course, one thing to be made clear is Goat–Mutton as referred is produced out of male Goat which is best considered for mutton.
    Goat-mutton was in demand; it is in demand and, will be in future too. On consideration of the acceptance and demands, goatery as low cost investment could be highly remunerative to the rural landless people.
    In addition, there are many supportive schemes; Government is also pursuing to improve the total mutton production by popularizing different populist schemes. But the fact is; it is not picking up in the expected level.
    A rural landless people can rear a herd of Goats without much investment. Of course, few apprehend lacks of pasture land prevent them from venturing into Goatery but there is still fallow land or one cropped area where goat can be managed without much hindrance.
    The plus point of the Goatery is; total time requirement for rearing and producing of marketable sized Goat is very less, it is within one year that Goat can be marketed if properly managed. And, recurring investment towards maintenance is also very less.
     It is really possible to manage a herd of twenty five to thirty goats by the rural landless people in the given situation of any rural areas. In absence of pasture land due to penetration of Rubber everywhere, people find it restrictive to go ahead with goatery but the fact also that Goat can be managed in two to three years old Rubber Plantation too.
    This is to say that when the Rubber plantation or otherwise the Rubber seedling is of two to three years, the Seedling attained the height of over five to six feet which is beyond the reach of the Goat to make any damage to the Rubber Seedling. Controlled grazing in the Rubber Plantation during early days is in fact helpful to plantation owner.
     However, this is not tried and tested; however, it is presumed that this can reduce the total labor requirement of rubber plantation owners for cleaning of weeds / jungle which constitutes a large share of investment for rubber plantation.
     Possibilities are around but how to make it possible is the only question that people hardly finds out and recognizes.
                                              Agritangkol dated 21.02.2012

Sunday 11 March 2012

Livestock; Dwindling Livestock population is Affecting the Rural people

        What was the livestock scenario during 1970s? It may not be satisfactory in terms of total contribution in the state and national economy. But, it was well worth to mention that livestock maintenance during that time was easy and affordable. It was due to huge pasture lands that keeping of livestock was not a problem.
        From the own voice of the elderly person, it really throws the light of that time; “We would keep a large herd of buffalo, it was only later part of the seventy’s there was entry of Cow in the area.
        Now, Buffalo keeping is very less and restricted only in few places of Tripura. In those days, we let all the Buffalo free to the Jungle for grazing during months of January, interestingly, and these Buffalo is brought back during the month of the April or May by the farmers for their utilization in farm operation and also other utility”.
        But, now the situation is quite different, there is real challenge in maintenance of livestock in the rural areas due to shrinkage of pasture lands and also several ecological and climatic changes.
        There was a time, people would let all their cattle in the farm lands after the harvest of kharif paddy but, now, there is completely different picture. There is decline in cattle population in the rural areas and it has affected the people in several ways;
      • Milk has become scarce item in the rural areas
      • Dependency on power tiller increased due to decline of drought animals
     • Manure become scarce due to decline of cattle population which has affected in soil health so is crop productivity
     • Farmers/people deprived of side income through selling of cattle
        There is anxiety amongst the rural people for maintaining the livestock in the changing rural scenario. People apprehend for harsh reality in maintaining the livestock due to the changes brought out by the land use pattern and several other ecological and climatic impacts.
        On 14.02.2012, a group of villager consisting of 14 nos. aged persons was discussing their cattle resources and its management in the prevailing situation.
        These aged persons were form Tuikrama area under Sonanura Sub-Division of West Tripura (now Sepahijala) District.
Their main points of discussion were:
• Shrinkage of Pasture lands
• Prolong dry spell
• Depleting Cattle resources

Pasture land Non-availability:

        Now, the main problem that is associated with the livestock or cattle rearing is lack of pasture lands in almost all rural areas. This is prominently evident in the rubber predominant zones.
     Pasture land is shrinking day by day in the area like Tuiwandal, Tuikrama, Chhundul, Mirza and Rani. Reason of shrinkage of pasture land is mainly due to the changes in the land utilization pattern by the rural people of the State.
        The first and foremost factor that has influenced the pasture land is Rubber plantation, Rubber plantation has penetrated almost all areas, leaving very little for use as other non-forestry purpose including grazing of cattle etc.

Prolong Dry Spell:

        In the present climatic / weather condition that started especially from the month of January to end of the February and beginning of the Mach, there has been no rain (except in few cases), every thing is dried and grasses in the fields are dried up.
     There is no new flush or regeneration or growth of grasses even in the one cropped areas too due to water stress in the recurrent prolong dry spell that is being observed now-a-days.
        In the situation like this, cattle rancher / farmers have to depend on the preserved Rice straw for feeding their cattle. However, preserved rice straw would not last long, if dry spell continues in this case there will be may more difficulties in maintaining the live stock in the farm.
      This situation will not favor the animal resources to develop in the rural condition but a detrimental factor for negative growth of the resources. Of course, this is only the one factor that influenced the cattle resources of the state but there are many intriguing factors too.

Depleting Cattle Resources:

       Now, the cattle population in those rural areas is in dwindling condition, number of cattle is decreasing day by day. Farmers no longer maintain cattle stock in numbers, it is only few they maintain at present due to lack of pasture land or otherwise grazing land. Cattle resources require;
  • Available pasture lands
  • Good support mechanisms from the Government
  • Proper mechanisms to deal with any disease out break
  • Regulated marketing of animal and other product and
  • Preventing any illegal movement of animals through international boundary
Ways to improve the Situation
        Animal resource plays a vital role in rural economy, in the present situation there is good market trends. Farmers can earn a good share of income through selling of animal and animal products. In addition, there is huge requirement for the cow dung manure in the manure starved farms in the rural areas.
       The time has to take the matter seriously and intervene in the matter for improving the situation in the flowing ways;
  • Earmarking of pasture lands ensuring the people to use
  • Popularization of fodder cultivation
  • Creating awareness for ensuring the intensive livestock farm
  • Creating awareness for improving the animal resource for over all farm productivity
                                       Agritangkol dated 05.03.2012