Saturday 26 November 2011

A Good Prospect for Bamboo Cultivation in Tripura

    There was a time; Tripura was bestowed with several species of Bamboos. Tripura was known for her handcrafted materials in the World which come up on the good resources of Bamboos in the state.
   However, with the changing times, everything becomes glory of the past. Bamboo which was abundant has come to the lowest ever level in present time due to many factors.
   Some of the factors that greatly influenced in depletion of Bamboos in the state are as follows:-
       • Bamboo flowering which is natural phenomenon had wiped many species of Bamboos in the state.
      • Shifting cultivation has had great impacts on bamboos.
        • Un-scrupulous extraction of Bamboos.
      • Decade’s ignorance on the Bamboo species by the people and also the concerned agency.
       • Legal and illegal trades of bamboos in cross Border States.
       • Increasing popularity in bamboo shoot delicacy also resulted negatively in growth of Bamboos in the state.
     Bamboo, it is becoming rare in the state, this one time abundant natural resources is available in the exorbitant price. In some parts of the state it has become unavailable resource due to which many had to switch over in plastic materials for fencing work which used to be done by using Bamboo.
   Of late, state department has been pursuing to regenerate this valuable species through different schemes. People have been encouraged to take up Bamboo cultivation as one of the profitable farm activities.
   Until, ten years ago people would have laughed on hearing this populist approach of bamboo cultivation but with the time everybody has realised the importance and necessity of the bamboo cultivation in the state.
    Now, in this crucial juncture, some of the visionary farmers who could foresee the future of bamboos are reaping and benefiting from their bamboo plantation and earning very good income that has never ever come before.
    Take a look in the following stats through which profitability of bamboo could easily be imagined:-
       • A Muli Bamboo of 15 feet long of 40 diameters is sold in rupees twenty per piece compare to rupees five in earlier days.
       • Similarly, another Bamboo of Mitinga species is sold rupees twenty per piece compare to rupees three in earlier days.
      • A Barak Bamboo of 30 feet long of 75 diameters is sold in rupees one hundred and fifty which used to fetch only rupees fifteen to twenty in earlier days.
    The above trends although shows the gloomy states of affairs but it also throws some light for the farming communities to tap this opportune moment in their strides.
   Bamboo, a hardy species under Poaceae requires less nurturing but could be a huge potential in the state where there are activities relating to set up of bamboo based value addition centre.

    The time has come for the farmers to turn his fallow land if any into the most profitable diversification activities and fulfil the economic self reliance.

Thursday 24 November 2011

True Potato Seeds: A long journey ahead

      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 main field.
Raising 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.
Transplanting 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.
Expectation 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 irrigation.
       • 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.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Rubber Plantation in relation to Forest Coverage

    There are several views on the emerging Rubber Plantation in Tripura while some groups push the growth of Rubber other pulls back for stoppage.
   Now, what is the general trend? Agricultural professionals feel threatened and consider Rubber as non-sustainable approach. Rubber Board sales the success story and spreads the news of Rubber wonders.
   In between these pull and push of agriculture department and Rubber Board the reaction of farming communities is up-beat, receptive and conducive for new plantation as well as increasing the area of Rubber Plantation.
    The views of forest department the saviour of green is of course, only occasional outburst when forest areas are illegally encroached.
     Now, another question that is point of my interest is the forest coverage, forest regeneration in relation to emerging Rubber plantation and its influence on overall forest coverage of the state.
    Will you consider Rubber Plantation as equivalent to forest regeneration? Do forest department consider Rubber as forest species? Of course, I have no clear answers and clarifications on these questions.
     While depletion of forest coverage is the question and regeneration and increasing of green coverage is the challenge. In this critical situation where do stand and analyse the influence of Rubber plantation in over all forest coverage of the state?
    Like elsewhere, State forest department is the sole authority of protecting and projecting the forest resources of Tripura. The Forest departments regulate the use of forest resources and regenerate the forest coverage for balancing the basic human needs and climatic commitment.
     Sometimes ago, there were talks on the subject of total forest scenario of the state wherein, it was reported that forest coverage of the state is in increasing trend that is forest covering is increasing in the state.
     Now, coming to the basic and practical aspects of forest regeneration that has been around in the state, I have my own observation.
   The Rubber Board, Tripura region is reporting increasing trends of new Rubber Plantation and many welfare departments of state are also implementing Rubber scheme of course, there are many people who are taking up new plantation on their own.
   If all are reporting increasing trends then the question is; where do they take up these activities? It may on their own land (tilla / hills), o.k. let us consider that no protected lands of forest department are encroached for Rubber Plantation but ultimately, new Rubber Plantation would be requiring lands, high lands that means forest coverage are ought to be disturbed and depleted.
   Now, how do you justify the reports indicating the increase of green coverage in the state then? What I presume is; satellite imagery indicating increase of forest coverage might be showing the mix-up image of the Rubber Plantation with other forest green coverage of the state.
     Now, if green is goal and objective then it is achieved but still there is undercurrent and suspicion on the emerging trends. These views and suspicion should be addressed and to clarify these, these following studies seems to very necessary:-
         • A detail study should be carried out to find out the affect of Rubber Plantation in relation to other forest species.
         • A Study to find out the influence of Rubber plantation on climatic condition.

         • A study to find out whether Rubber releases toxic elements into the soil.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Meddling by middleman: Agriculture produce marketing

     There are lots of public outcry, movement and speculation for rises of price of agriculture produce and other essential commodities in and around the World. People talks and consider spiralling price rise is also one of the negative factor for economic growth!
    It is said that poor and lower middle class people have to spend more than fifty percent of their earnings in procuring and purchasing of food stuffs so is less rooms for other expenditure for well being of a family.
     Have anybody ever looked into the matter who actually are the ultimate looser and benefited of such situation? Field and practical picture shows completely different and contrasting pictures.
     Take the case of farmers and growers who produces the agriculture produces; what it the share of their income?
   Farmers profits rupees three to four rupees per kilo gram of agriculture produce after nurturing three to four months whereas, a middleman earns eight to ten rupees within hour. Of course, this may vary according to types of crops and marketability.
    A vegetable farmer sales his Cauliflower for rupees thirty per kilo gram whereas, a middleman sales the same in rupees fifty per kilo grams. A poultry farmers sales his birds for rupees eighty per kilo gram whereas, a middleman sales for rupees one hundred and twenty per kilo gram of poultry bird. If this is the scenario then it would be nicer to be middleman than a primary producer.
  When a situation of price rise in agriculture produce and essential commodities happens, there is uproar in the streets and that finally settles in the parliament.
   Political pressure, public pressures compels finally the Government to tighten the situation and control the uprising for more people centric move. But, finally who gets that tightening? It is the farmers who are already tightened are tightened further.
   I remember, ITC has a model which is primary producer centric for facilitating the farmers to get the maximum from their produce. E-Chou pal is one such model that has been followed and implemented in some parts of the country.
     Finally, I would like to say that I am not against the middleman but my intention is farmers should get their share which at present is very abysmal.

   Government should bring out more regulatory mechanism for protecting the primary producers of the country otherwise agriculture sector which is yet to come out from the term subsistence will remain in the same.