Saturday 24 December 2011

Volatile Vegetable Market: Farmers Are in Crisis

     In my earlier post title “Meddling by middleman in Agriculture produce marketing” some ideas had been reflected as to how the actual producers get affected due to situation.

Vegetable production scenario of the state:-

    In Tripura, not all places are famed for vegetable cultivation and production. It is happening in handful of places in different districts and sub-division of the state as mentioned below:
        Sonamura west Tripura district
        Melaghar West Tripura district
        Udaipur South Tripura district
        Masli North Tripura district
        Pecharthal North Tripura districts
        Jolaibari South Tripura districts

     The above mentioned places are known to produce different types of winter vegetables which meet the over all demands of the state. Of course, in other places also more or less winter and summer vegetables are cultivated and produced but most prominently in the above mentioned places.
      Farmers of the above mentioned areas are already spontaneously motivated for vegetable cultivation due to long association, practices and trends. They require less external intervention for adoption of new vegetable varieties in their areas.

Present trends of vegetable market:-

      During last few weeks, there were some signs of relief on the face of vegetable buyers of Agartala area due to sudden or abrupt price decline in vegetable markets especially the vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage. But, what is the condition of the growers that vegetable growers who compelled sale their produce in cheap rate?
      Cauliflower and cabbage which were used to sold in rupees fifty and thirty per kilogram till one month ago could be available within range of rupees fifteen and ten per kilogram respectively on date.
    In some places, a whole cabbage and cauliflower weighing one and half kilograms and half kilograms could be available with rupees five and eight respectively.

Reason of vegetable market crash:-

      Media has been critical enough to blame the situation to the Government for encouraging the farmers to go for vegetable cultivation. However, this is not the topic of elaboration on blame game but a view points on vegetable cultivation in the state. Some assumes it is due to surplus production but it should not be the case.
     Well, in Tripura, vegetable production especially the vegetable crops like cauliflower, cabbage and different types of beans could not be considered as surplus production and present market crash should not also be construed as surplus production.
Now, the point that comes naturally is; where these farmers do markets their products. Is there any facility for inter state trans-shipment of vegetable produce of Tripura?
     Answer to the first question is; farmers’ sale their produce in their locality and some of their produce also transported to capital city and nearest district / sub-divisional head quarters for meeting the localized varied requirements.
    Answer to the latter question is; vegetables from Masli area under north Tripura district is said to be trans-shipped to the adjoining states.
     Now, what happens to the vegetable growing belts during the season is; growers try to ship their products in high market area but ends up in local market due to which there is heaping up of vegetable produce and products sold in lower prices and loss to the vegetable growers.
     The fact is vegetable produce is not distributed properly to the other areas where there are demands for the products. In Tripura, vegetable production is not uniform as already mentioned so there would definitely be requirement in different places.
     The products needs to be marketed and for good marketing to happen it has to be transported in different places for tapping the market opportunity. Now, there is requirement for good transportation facility in affordable rates. Transportation facilities are available but how to know the market conditions of the other areas? And, what is the source farmers should rely?
    This is a typical situation; who would judge the market trends? Is it market / merchant association or Government? This is the tricky situation because; merchant association would be looking after the welfare of the local businessman and try to maintain the profitable trends of different produce in their local market.
   The source of information should be authentic and reliable for facilitating good and profitable markets for different vegetable produce in different markets.
     Now the condition is; consumer is happy, but only occasionally media is drawing the attention. In the midst of all some voices and pictures are becoming blurred and it is none other than the farmers and growers who finally will pay heavy dividend for the market onslaught.
     Vegetable growers for that matter all the farmers should have the knowledge of decision making for taking the future course of action in the form of selecting suitable crops in particular season considering the previous trends and future prospects otherwise condition would repeat in infinite times.
   Agritangkol dated 09.12.2011 at 05.17 P.M

Thursday 22 December 2011

Revive Milch Cow Rearing: Milk is Becoming Rare in Tripura

     What are the items that would fetch perennial demands? This is the typical question some people would ask while gossiping. What about the milk? This is the item; people of all age groups would declare as their requirement next to staple items.
   What is the availability of milk in Tripura? Town dwellers will hesitantly reply it is manageable and rural folk would invariably reply, they hardly remember milk as an item they find in their menu.
    A resident of Agartala is accessible to skimmed milk in the packaged form and other powdered milk of the brand like Britania, Everyday and Amul etc and other milk products.
Whereas, villagers of 100miles away from capital is not accessible to skimmed milk except some processed milk products that could be found in the area adjacent to the block, sub-divisional head quarters or any busy business places. This is because milk has become a rare item now-a-days in rural areas.
    Why there is such rarity of milk in the state? Of course, reason may be many but first and foremost is the decline in milch cow and over all livestock population in the state which directly impacted on milk production.
   Of course, this not an empirical data however, it is the fact that in almost all parts of Tripura rearing of milch cow has declined drastically. In earlier days; places like Mirza, Tulamura, Rani of Kakrabon R.D. Block would foster lots of milch cow for their family needs and also side income through selling their milk to the nearest sweet shops but now the picture is completely different. The picture should not be opposite in other parts of the state too.
    What happened in olden days is; agriculture was fully depending on drought animal for farm operation, even non-farming population would also keeps milch cow for meeting the needs of milk but with the passage of time dependence on animal for farm operation has reduced drastically due to problem of drought animals and non-farming population also backtracked from rearing of milch cow due to lack of fodder in the area.
     Now, in almost all places leaving behind some areas, there is new trends for farm operation and farm operation like ploughing or tilling of lands are mostly carried out with the help of power tiller due to decline of livestock population which affected in decline of drought animals. This has had direct influence in milk production of the state.
     In Tripura, although the Animal Resource Development Department has been constantly pursuing to increase and popularize the animal resources in the state but no remarkable achievement at least as far as milch cow is concerned could be observed in the state.
    There was the trend in earlier days, farmers would go to the nearest animal sub-center or stockman sub-centre for artificial insemination of their local milch cow for obtaining good and high yielding breed of milch cow like Jersey but now-a-days this trend is not observed in the locality.
    In Tripura, activities for milk production is not considerable, villagers are not inclined for any move for furtherance of milk production activities. The reason may be; they either do not know the prospects of milk and its economic and health benefits or they have no interest to go for milch cow rearing in the situation where there is no sufficient fodder to feed the milch cow.
     Moreover, in Tripura, there are no major milk producing federations or society that would foster the growth of milk sector in the state. At present GOMTI which is at Agartala is the name synonymous for milk production and supply in the urban areas. In Tripura, there are only two milk co-operative societies one at Agartala that is GOMTI and another at Dharmanagar under North Tripura District.
    The policy maker, civic society should come out and work in the direction to improve the situation for enhancing the milk production of the state otherwise, there would be skewed development of different sectors.
    Skewed development of line department / sector will not give sustained development in over all sector of the state.
   To improve the milk production of the state, the followings activities are must:-
      • Encourage the farmers to rear milch cow in the state.
     • Ensure the supply of good and high yielding breeds of Milch to the farmers in affordable rates.
     • To go for community or cluster approach to implement the above
     • Providing of stock man sub-centre in every cluster with the facility of animal treatment and artificial insemination facility.
     • Identify suitable land for development of community Pasteur.
     • Popularizing the fallow land for fodder cultivation.
    • Arrangement of milk processing unit according to size of the cluster.
     • Ensuring the supply of milk and milk products to the markets.
      • A good binding force in the form of bye law to the cluster for running the cluster smoothly and profitably.
                                    Agritangkol dated 09.12.2011 at 05.20 P.M

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Rubber plantation in Tripura: A Ray of Hope for Revival of Apis dorsata, Apis cerana indica and Other Honey Producing Species.

     In my earlier post, some idea had been given about the disappearance or decline of Apis dorsata the giant honey bee and other species like Apis cerana indica and Apis melipona in Tripura.
     The decline of Apis dorsata, Apis cerana indica honey bee and also other species were the reason of depletion of forest coverage, un-scrupulous methods of honey extraction, usage of pesticides and also lack of forages in the form of cultivated nectar and pollen producing crops.
    Now, the once most abundant honey bee, the Apis dorsata and Apis cerana indica are rare and not to be seen like before however recent report that I gathered online throws a ray of hope for revival of honey bee population in the state.
   Now, it is no more debating topic that Rubber Plantation is also one of the reason of depletion of natural vegetation so is imbalance in the natural ecosystem.
Now, it is also no more debating topics that the things already happened cannot be easily undone or restored.
   Now the question is; how these species could be revived? This is the question that comes first. Online report indicated that Rubber Plantation which until now looked suspiciously for changing the natural ecosystem could be a source of revival olden glory.
   It was established fact that rubber plantation provides a source of subsidiary income through bee keeping and it has been around for many decades. Khadi and Village Industries Commission of Government of India is the concerned for pursuing this aspect.
    Now, of course, Rubber Board is also providing help to the concerned farmers or rubber growers in respect to establishment of apiary in the rubber plantation. The rubber tree particularly the “tip of the petiole where leaflet joins” ( are a good source of nectar so is for honey.
     This is the good news for the farmers and growers for their additional income and also good news for the people who are worried for natural imbalance and its subsequent affects on decline of different species in the state.
     Tripura is the second largest producer of natural rubber in the country naturally; there would be substantial acreage of rubber plantation in the state. Now the question is; how to harness this opportunity for both economical purpose as well as saving the endangered honey bee species in the state?
     In Tripura also there was some report in this regards but there is no substantial activities as on date. Rubber belts in the south district of Tripura like Rani-Mirza, Tulamura and the adjoining areas did not have any beekeeping activities in their rubber plantations. Even many rubber growers do not know that their rubber plantation could be a source of additional income through bee keeping.
     Rubber plantations which till now has been utilized for latex and timber could easily be a source for subsidiary activity by the people of the state for earning a substantive income through beekeeping. This aspect is yet to find its right place for exposure.
      Apis dorsata, the giant honey bee or rock bee which is wild cannot be tamed and domesticated for permanent source of income but the source that id rubber trees should be forth coming for the species to flourish in the state.
       Apis cerana indica which comparatively small in size could be hived and reared successfully for economic activity. Moreover, people of the state knew the procedure for keeping of Apis cerana indica honey bee.
     However, for any dramatic changes to happen, rigorous study should be conducted as indicated below:-
     • A detail study to find out the acceptability of the honey bees to the new forage i.e. Rubber petiole.
       • A detail study to find out the year long requirement of nectar and pollen from the Rubber trees as it is indicated that the flow of nectar is during the month of January to March.
      • Rubber is not ever green tree species; it sheds leaves during the month of February to March in every year and its affects on honey bee colony.
       • Movable system of beekeeping, a new system to be studied with different location based centre.
     Once, the study of the above is fruitful there should not be any back tracking, it should be popularized throughout the Rubber growing areas of the state.
                                    Agritangkol dated 08.12.2011 at 05.30 P.M

Sunday 18 December 2011

Challenges of Pineapple Cultivation in Tripura.

    In Tripura, pineapple is one of the major fruit crop in terms of area and production. Pineapple is prominently grown in North Tripura and West Tripura district in large scale therefore production is more in these two districts of Tripura.
   In Tripura, two varieties of Pineapple are available one, Queen another Kew. As far as size, yield and juice content, Kew is best however for table purpose, queen is good.
Queen variety is popular in West Tripura district in particular area of Sonamura Sub-division under West Tripura district. Kew is prominently the crop of the people of North district of Tripura as it is grown in large scale in the area like; Betcherra, Nalkata, Darchawii and Kailashahar.
   According to growers, 37500 numbers of pineapple suckers could be planted in a hectare of land. Production usually starts after two and half year of planting however, when the plantation reaches three years age then full production is expected.
    However, there are also recurring cost in terms of weeding and fruit harvesting which continues in every season and consumes huge labor wages to the growers. Of course, fertilization is another aspect people do not concerned about as because they do not go for any fertilization activities either organic or inorganic fertilizer. Thus Pineapple produced in Tripura could be termed as organic due such intrinsic factors.
    One hectare of pineapple plantation yields approximates 27000 numbers pineapple fruits which worth one lakh thirty five thousands at the rate of rupees five in average per fruits in Indian currency. When there is procurement by the NERAMAC and Dabur Company, growers can take home good profit from their plantation but if there is not then it bring loss to the farmers.
     As per the statistics available online, Pineapple production in Tripura is around 45000 metric tons, out of which Kew is contributing lion shares in production followed by the Queen variety.
    In Tripura, Pineapple fruit crop is facing the following challenge which affects the over all fruit sectors of the state:-
         1. Marketing problems,
         2. No fruit processing units
         3. No subsidiary sector
         4. Pressure of Rubber plantation,

     What ever may be the scale of production unless the products produced are facilitated to the consumer either in the fresh or processed forms then there would be problems of transformation of products into the productive purpose. In Tripura and elsewhere, there are huge demands for pineapple products that could either be in fresh or processed form. But, this huge demand is yet to be tapped.
    In Tripura, marketing problem is manly due to lack of proper utilization of the resource by the local fruit processing plant the NERAMAC. According to the growers of Nalkata area, NERAMAC plant is closed so no procurement by the plant.
    Until few years ago Dabur Company used to procure pineapple fruits from the Tripura particularly from north districts has stopped the interest to procure the products from the area. This in frequent procurement by the Dabur Company has created further marketing bottlenecks of the pineapple growers of the Tripura particularly the people of north district as told by the growers of Nalkata area on 01.12.2011.
    In Tripura, there are two seasons as far as production of pineapple is concerned. The main season is June to July where there is maximum production and secondary season or off season is during the month from October to December. Production during the off season is comparatively less compared to main season.
    Due to marketing constraints many growers of Betcherra area have converted their pineapple plantation into rubber plantation according to the growers. However, the growers who not wished to be named has also informed that pineapple still plays important role in their financial reliance as far as the Nalkata area is concerned.
    During main season, pineapple fruits piles up in the roadside for marketing by the retailers for fresh consumption but fresh consumption hardly meets the total production available in the season so, in many cases pineapple fruits are sold in cheaper rates or rots which ultimately results in loss to the growers.
    The need of the hour is to create a facility to utilize the resources available in the state and fruit processing plants should come up in the state and young people should be encouraged to set up agro-based venture for tapping these untapped resources. The existing fruit processing plant that is the NERAMAC plants should be revived and made fully functional for availing these precious resources and creating value added fruit products.