Saturday 29 October 2011

Organic Pumpkin of Jampui Hill

Organic pumpkin as I say and intended to elaborate about is not about certified or labeled organic product by any certifying agency. 
 But, it may not be out of place to call the pumpkin produced from Jhum field of Jampui hill as organic pumpkin due to the fact that all the Jhum produce including the very subject of Pumpkins are produced without application of any type of chemical substances either in the form of nutrient supplements or pesticides.
In my earlier post, I tried to indicate the trend and tendency of the people towards the organic products so, it is rightly appropriate to take a deep dive in the subject. 
 In the time of movement for organic product, pumpkin produced from the Jhum without application of any chemical has got good significance. In Tripura, organic pumpkin is produced out of Jhum cultivation in Jampui hill, Sakhan Hill and Atharamura Hill range.
 Of this, pumpkin produced from Jampui Hill range has unique demands and maximum production of Jhum pumpkin has been reported from the Jampui hill range.

Organic pumpkin production

In Tripura, organic pumpkin is produced in the sloppy hills of Jampui Hill, Sakhan Hill and Atharamura Hill range. People of Jampui hill, Sakhan and Atharamura Hill ranges produced this organic pumpkin through the traditional Jhum cultivation.
 During Jhuming season, after burning of slash and clearing of Jhum field, Pumpkin seeds are sown along with the other Jhum crops during the month of May and June.  

Production method and pest control measures

Like any other crops, natural enemies either in commercially cultivated or Jhum cultivated pumpkin do have natural enemies like flies or any hymenopterans insect which inflicts damage on the crop. 
But in no circumstances chemical is used for controlling this insect pest except some physical control methods by the cultivators.
When natural enemies of pumpkin are observed it is controlled by the physical controlled methods and also by applying ash etc.
 But in no circumstances chemical pesticides and insecticides are applied for controlling these pumpkin pests. Thus the produced is completely free from any traces of chemical residues and could be considered as organic pumpkin.
In addition, no chemical fertilizers are applied for growing of pumpkin; it is grown completely under the care of the nature that is completely depending on the naturally occurring soil nutrients.

Quality of organic pumpkin

Organic pumpkin has good demands in the state as well as in the adjoining state of Tripura. It is due to its texture, keeping quality, taste that attracts the people but for me, first and foremost is; it is produced without application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
 Pumpkins produced in the plain land which are cultivated commercially although are better yielding but as we go by taste and texture it is poorer than the Jhum produced organic pumpkin. Jhum pumpkin is exclusively produced in the Jhum field that is in the high land.
Organic pumpkin has good demands in the state as well as other state due to its intrinsic quality as I say it is very sweet and good texture, good cooking quality.
 In season, it fetches very good price compare to commercially cultivated pumpkins. Moreover, Jhum pumpkins especially, if it is with the tag of free from any chemical fertilizers and pesticides and also the tag of Jampui Hill then there is huge demands by the people.

Prospect of organic pumpkin

It is very difficult to predict the yield of Jhum pumpkin; it is due to the fact that it is completely grown under the care of the nature.
 But normally what happen is when selection of Jhum field is done more carefully that is to say that when fallow land or to say that in last 10 years no Jhuming had been done in the intended plot of land then there happens to be good yield thereby good profit.
But, now-a-days, due to shrinking of suitable Jhum land, it is not possible to find a suitable land to grow good pumpkin crops. In future it may not thrive also.
 Now a day only very few rely on Jhum cultivation, it is due to lack of suitable Jhum land and also switching over to the other plantation crops that Jhum cultivation in the state is declining. Another aspect is awareness that Jhum cultivation negatively impacts the natural vegetation that has played certain roles in declining of Jhum cultivation.
But in Jampui hills since the people are living in the top of the Jampui hills range, they have no option but to rely on Jhum for food grain and other requirements. So in Jampui hills, Jhum is still prominent and may continue until such time when alternatives methods are found.
My point in the post is that since there is certain interest, trends and demands for organic products then why should not we take the stock of this opportunity and go selectively in pursuing the Organic farming. Let it start with Organic pumpkin of Jampui hill.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Soil Health being given secondary importance

In any crop production, Soil Health should come first, if soil health is sound rest will follow naturally and successfully and any contrary will result in low yield.
   Fertile and productive soil would anchor good crop growth whatever may be the varieties but soil with depressed health will be inhibit the crop growth.

Significance of soil health:-

 In one word, a good soil health would suffice with “Capable of supporting the crops” that is a good soil with the perspective of crop production indicates, its ability to supply required nutrients (both macro and micro nutrients) to the crop plants for successful growth and completion of life cycle.
A typical, soil not only has the required macro & micro nutrients, it also has many other micro organisms and other natural living beings which help in release of several nutrients in the soil thereby improving the soil health.
Good soil health also has the good water retention capacity which ultimately helps in crop production.

Deterioration of soil health:-

Now-a-Days crop production has been making a huge challenge due to a several factor, among the many such influencing factor is SOIL. Soil health has become cause of concern over the years.
Continuous cropping has depleted the soil nutrients to the great extent. But, replenishment by way of improving soil health has not been done instead much pressure is being given on the same plot of land. Continuous cropping without good replenishment has exhausted the naturally occurring soil nutrients to the maximum extent.
More over application of chemical fertilizers (over use) has resulted in further deterioration of soil health by influencing the soil PH and affecting soil microbial population.
Decline in soil microbial population has resulted in inefficiency or slow release of insoluble nutrient to the soil thereby again affecting the crop production.
Well, for a good soil health, humus or organic matter content of the soil plays significant roles. This organic content not only helps in restoring the soil health but also helps in colonization of beneficial microbes.
These micro organisms’ helps in degrading the bio material and releasing many elements to the soil thus enriching the soil health suitable for good crop production.

Challenge in improving the soil health

In the present perspective, I do not see any immediate future by which some measure could be taken to restore the soil health. This is because first and foremost thing that I feel required is application of any organic matter to the soil for balancing the ratio of organic matter content in the soil.
But there is gloomy picture as far as availability of manure is concerned. In earlier days manures, it was the only soil nutrient replenishment that used to be applied in the field but now, I doubt no farmer is able to apply required quantities of manure to the field for improving the soil health.
 There are instances that maximum crop production now-a-days are taken up without application of organic manure.
This problem is due to decline in livestock population in the state that has greatly impacted on availability of organic manures. In Tripura there is sharp decline in livestock population especially cattle.
One good concept which comes up as an alternative to the cow dung organic manure is also finding difficulties to make a foot holds in the state.
 Vermicompost could have been better replacement is not picking up in the state although; it is very promising in terms of nutrient availability and good prospect in marketability. May be the good messages is yet to reach to the target group that could be the reason, it is taking undue time till now.

Restoration of soil health

     We have heard lots about improvement and release of new verities for better crop production all over the world and same applies to the Tripura.
Speaking, nurturing and tendering of new varieties and its management have over shadowed the very important aspect of crop production per-requisite the soil.
 We tend to give very higher importance on specific variety, pest control measure etc but improving the deteriorated soil health has never been a topic of prime discussion.
     “Any amount of effort would be wastage of time, if soil health is down”
  The most immediate action should be restoration of soil health which by far plays one of the most significant roles in factoring the crop production. Some of the outlines by which, we can improve the soil health are given below:-
  • Application of organic matter.
  • Application of bio-fertilizer as the case may be, based on soil condition.
  • Culturing the algae especially in rice ecosystem.
  • Incorporation of green leafy matter for increasing the organic matter content.
  • Cultivation of leguminous crops for enriching the soil nutrient.
  • Encouraging the farmers to go for low cost vermicompost.
  • Keeping the land in fallow condition on certain period, if possible.
  • Judicious application of chemical fertilizer with an objective to not affect the soil health.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Pre-harvest Rain could jeopardize the hope of farmers.

    On 21st October, 2011, during evening time there was sudden downpour which however lasted for roughly few minutes.
    Rain at this time, which is pre-harvest rain, could damage the standing crop in the state. Harvest of rice crop in Tripura is expected from the month of October and it may extend up to December based on the sowing or planting time of rice by the farmers.
    On 22nd October, 2011, again there was rain coupled with cloudy weather from afternoon on wards. Pre-harvest rain and cloudy weather at this stage of rice crop could jeopardize the hopes of the farmers.
    Due to this pre-harvest rain, rice crop which is in harvesting stage would be greatly affected and standing crops which are in dough stage could also invite different problems of disease causing pathogen and insect pests.
  This pre-harvest rain may also affect standing rice crop by lodging especially tall rice varieties. In case lodging takes place, there will be a huge loss to the farmers.
   This pre-harvest rain was predicted few days ago by the concerned agency after installation of weather forecasting instrument Doppler at Agartala Airport. It was predicted that this pre-harvest rain in the north east along with neighboring Bangladesh could happen as there was sudden depression in Bay of Bengal.
   What ever, may the case, if this pre-harvest rain extends few more days, it could result in loss of total food grain production of the state as well as country.
   As a counter measure for any eventualities, farmers have to keep constant watch on their rice field and prevent any infection and spread of Bacterial disease and also pest attack which at this congenial weather may take upper hand, if not monitored properly. 

Sunday 23 October 2011

Organic Product and Health Crazy People

Now-a-days, in my locality, a new breed of health conscious people have come up, caring very much for their health which starts from selection of food items to many such activities that need not be mentioned.
 They are constantly in search of organic product for good health. But how do they do identify or differentiate the organic product from non-organically produced item?
It is very surprising to observe that these health crazy people generally differentiate the organic product from other normal agriculture produce based on the shape, size and color etc.
Malformed and pale looks  agriculture produce are considered to be the organic product items and so is good for health and items which are well formed, very succulent are doubted to be the non-organic products produced out of application of chemical fertilizers and  chemical pesticides etc.
Well, personally I do not know the affects of consuming agricultural produce out of the field where exact dosages of chemical fertilizers and pesticides had been used.
 But, I have the reservation on agricultural produce where there is abuse in application of chemical pesticides and not maintaining the safety period before harvesting the produce etc. May be I am also inclining towards organic product.
In one sense, their presumption could be right as because agricultural produce out of field from optimized application of fertilizers and other chemical measures will look fresher and plump compare to organic product produced under the sole care of Mother Nature without much alteration and devoid of replenishing nutrient.
But, the fact is, this visual differentiation of organic product is not scientific and may not be appropriate. If it is the case than a label mentioning the “organic product” will be more appropriate.
But, this labeling or putting differentiator at this moment may not happen or if at all to try ever; it would be a great task for the people and the Government to bring the changes.
It is the Government and department concern to decide as to how to act; of course awareness of the people will be the driving force for any changes to come as the case may be.
However, as of now, no such massive movement or public outcry except whispering has been observed. May be this will come eventually when more people will be attracted to the concept of organic farming and organic product.
It is sure that these passive thinking of creamy layer of people would one day bring massive movement in framing the regulatory mechanism for organic farming but again this changes would be painful.
   To add again, in the present context, if changes are to come for organic farming, there could be  3 (three) areas that should be looked into and  by which farmers can be motivated for shifting  slowly from their present form of farming to organic farming
·Being the producer is also the consumer that is when the farmer himself is conscious and aware of the facts than the changes would forthcoming.
·No pseudo cry would help; organic product would be very costly and should be compensated.
·The Government may bring new regulation and help in identifying virgin plots that is free from any residual affects and that can be utilized for organic farming. All this things should be in slow but steady progression.
 While at the present condition going solo on organic farming is either not necessary or impracticable. This is due to the fact that for organic farming to root in the prevailing condition, there are several other factors that would be required and taken into consideration for the system to happen.
 For organic farming to happen, first and foremost thing is look into the soil condition; soil nutrient is already depleted, soil micro organisms are disturbed and soil is contaminated with chemical residues.
 So there is no magic mantra to cope up and switch over to organic farming abruptly.
Now, you have to restore the soil health and to restore the soil health; organic fertilizers or organic manures have to be applied. 
The question is do we have sufficient organic fertilizers or manures locally? Answer is not, at least as far as I am concerned. As I said, it would be painful and time consuming for the change to happen.
However, once  all the practice are in place from there it would be smooth sailing, reason by this time your soil health and surrounding ecosystem would be very much in restored stage.
Instead, in developing and third world countries where food requirement is more so, judicious application of chemical fertilizer and pesticide are must and for that to happen, awareness program should be initiated in massive way. In the meantime strategic objectives may be set up for going organic farming in long term manner.
     In USA, Organic product is demanding and in the coming years it is expected to be huge according to report.
   Let us set the objective for organic farming but in the meantime, ongoing farming practices may continue with judicious use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
    According to report, in the coming day’s organic product will take a momentum effect in terms popularity and outreach so is the organic farming. The main objective or motto is healthy life and healthy mind.