Saturday 21 January 2012

Nutritive Sweet Potato is Trailing behind the Potato!


        Sweet Potato believed to be “Domesticated in Central America” and Potato “Originated in Andes Hills”, yet, both are favorite in the heart of people of Tripura. However, favorite, favorable and preference, all these words vary differently between these two types potato as far as popularity and preferences at the present context is concerned.
        Potato; it is next to impossible to miss in the daily menu so is preference and popularity in the state Tripura. In terms of production although not in the distinguishable rank of all India level but potato in Tripura is produced quite significantly to meet the demands of the people.
        On the other hand, Sweet Potato; it is somewhat rare bird in the populous market of potato. This sweet produce is consumed seasonally except in season, it rarely makes its existence, and people prefer Sweet Potato in limited case leaving only mixed vegetable preparation and boiled Sweet Potato. Its limited use has indeed reflected in the popularity and very existence of Sweet Potato in the state.
       There was time, we had tried to exploit the trending Sweet Potato demands by growing in an acre of land but, experience of that particular crop was long drawn experience which I remember till date. That endeavor was totally flop due to the fact that half of the produce remained un-harvested in the field itself and whatever had been harvested had been subjected to harsh market condition.”

Reason of differential growth of Potato & Sweet Potato

       These two types of potato i.e. modified stem are in fact not new to the state; they have arrived to the state fairly long time ago. Since then, both are making its existence only the difference being one is flourishing and other is floundering in their journey to the present state of condition.
       These two crops, it is very much similar in many ways and dissimilar only in few accounts but still potato is prominent and promising and Sweet Potato is struggling. Details accounts of their similarities and dissimilarities are narrated below:-


• Both are adaptable to the soil & climatic condition of Tripura.
• Both are modified stem as per botanical terms.
• Both are suitable for loose, fertile and alluvial soil for successful growth.
• Both the crops are traditional with deep cultural value to the people of the state.
• Usable produce of Sweet Potato and Potato is modified stem.
• Both Sweet Potato and Potato can be cultivated through vegetative mode i.e. modified stem. Potato can also be cultivated through true potato seed (after fertilization of two parental lines) and similarly, Sweet Potato is cultivated through stem cuttings; in fact, it is the most preferred method of cultivation in the state.


• Both Sweet Potato and Potato are herbaceous plants but Sweet potato is vine.
• Cost of cultivation in case of Sweet Potato is a less compare to Potato, it is due to maximum saving in the seed materials i.e. stem cutting which could be easily and most profusely produced in cheap rates.
• One of the striking differences as it is indicative from the name itself is taste; Sweet Potato either fresh or processed tastes sweet which is not in case of potato.

Nutritive aspect of Sweet Potato:

      Nutritionally, sweet potato (raw) is in good side as far as availability of carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are concerned. Raw sweet potato contains 10(ten) different vitamins and 6(six) different minerals as per USDA National data base.
Reason of stagnation of Sweet Potato:
     Both cases, if viewed in the users perspective then there is wide gap in field to fork; Potato has wide usage in different culinary preparation either solo or mixed and in addition, different other value added potato based products that is available in the market. These entire phenomenons have pushed the potato in positive tract of growth and popularity in the state and also country.
     Whereas, Sweet Potato as indicated above has limited usability (at least in the state) and it disappointingly ends with simple mixed Sweet Potato recipe and boiled one, all these owe limitation to the Sweet Potato demands and popularity in the State.
     Even in all India level, sweet potato production is very much minimum and restricted only in few states like Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Chhattishgarh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Kerala and Rajasthan.
      In the world, China is the major producers of sweet potato followed by Nigeria, Uganda, Indonesia, Vietnam, Tanzania, India and Japan according to Wikipedia 2009 update.

Future Prospective:-

    Sweet potato in other countries is making huge difference in terms of its different usage, popularity and demands; this is due to such acceptability owing to its value addition that it is making good demands to the people so is urge to produce more by the farmers of the respective country.
     In the country like America, there is separate body or council to look after farmers associated with Sweet potato and sweet potato trade etc.
     This is highly unlikely at the present scenario to make this sweet potato as popular as potato by show casing the different utility this sweet potato enjoys in other countries but people of the state should know the wide usability of sweet potato and its nutritive value which could one day come in rescue to the sweet potato for good grip in the mind of the people and the farming community.
Agritangkol dated 19.01.2012 at 4.00 P.M

Thursday 19 January 2012

Present Trends: A Look into the Floriculture of Tripura.

   Flower! It is omnipresent and most promiscuous in the state Tripura irrespective of caste, creed and religions. Flower for decoration, beautification, flower for worshiping, flower for wishing, expressing and serendipity are the few terms or otherwise expression that best describes the use and usability of flower by the people.
      Flower remained in its original form of expression and its usability irrespective of places and country is in fact increasing with the socio-economic development of people of any regions or countries for that matter.
      Most strikingly, flower is making a wave in the urban area in the newest terms and terminology although; this is not new to the area and also elsewhere but rapidly changing scenario in the urban market is due to change of aesthetic minds of the urban people of the state.
        This is partly due to the people’s affluences and purchasing capacity, many elites have taken different ways of expression to wish the occasion, situation and a way of thanks giving with lovely and most colorful floral bouquets in the time.
     Ten years ago, flower market of Agartala was hardly noticeable or otherwise in its infancy which now transformed to a considerable business proportion involving many people in the business. In those days flowers used to be air shipped from Kolkata (then Calcutta) to Agartala for meeting the local requirements that is to say that Agartala was solely depending on supply from Kolkata for different flowers(except locally or home grown flowers).
        Now, with the demand for flower being increased in Agartala locality; possibility to revamp the floriculture has been explored in scattered way covering few pockets of the state.
       Now, there is report of feeding the local market from the locally produced flowers in Agartala however, still there is dependency in outside state especially on West Bengal for import of different flowers to the capital city Agartala.
       At present, some people either in group or individual have started floriculture activities in the area like Bishalgarh under Bishalgarh R.D. Block and Khowai region. In addition some Self Help Group has plunged into the cultivation of different species of flowers based on the demands of the local market.
        The state department of Horticulture has been initiating different scheme to boost the floriculture activities in the state, in addition financial assistance through Technology mission also helped young people of the state to pursue the floriculture activities in business scale.
     “In Laxmibil under West Tripura district, some young people earned a good name in the floriculture activities by producing remarkable quantities of different flowers in then farm. It is reported that one such floriculturist has made a distinction tom supply different flowers to the national level viz; Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata.”
      This success story has inspired many people of the area to take up the flower cultivation in their area with the technical guidance by the state horticulture department and the concept is slowly spreading to elsewhere of the state. It is expected that this floriculture as one of the economic farm activity would one day bring prosperity in the economic persuasion through farm activities.
     At present, in Agartala locality, flowers in demand and sale in volume are indicated below:-
          • Rose (different colors)
          • Tube Rose
          • Gladiolus
          • Bid of Paradise
          • Marry Gold
          • gerbera
          • Anthodium
          • Orchids
          • Carnation
          • Orchids
          • Chandra Mallika

Present demands & anticipated prospects

      Demands for flowers in capital city Agartala is in increasing trends due to various factors as indicated above and it is likely to continue in the area moreover, in district and sub-division level also there will be demands in the days to come due to economic affluence of people and aesthetic taste.
      However, present demands for flower; if it is to be viewed in economical point view; it does not suits for large scale endeavor for floriculture venture as per present local markets demands are concerned.
     That is to say that any large scale endeavor solely anticipating for Agartala market would not be viable as flower usage aesthetically although increased quite significantly compare to previous decade but still the market is not ready for scaleable supply of floral products.
    This is owing to the fact that, in Tripura floral demands are mainly due to the followings:-
       • Worshiping, it is mostly met with home grown flower plants or otherwise and of course, its demand is perennial.
       • Wedding car decoration which is some what seasonal.
       • Home decoration with different flowers, it is still in nascent stage.
       • Floral bouquet and base, it is in increasing trends due to various occasional usages in the capital city.
     Now, if we take into the look at percentage of people at least as far as Agartala locality is concerned, the number of course not available but it should not be more than 10 percent or even less who use more frequent then not the floral products for different occasions(except worshipping and special occasions).
      So, Venturing solely depending on local market would be seriously defecting however in national and international markets, there is increasing demands for cut flowers so is prospects for export and import of different flowers.

External Intervention

    As far as Tripura perspective, floriculture is still in nascent stage of development. The time is for selective approach for popularizing the floriculture venture in different locality involving the individual having entrepreneur mindset as the concept and venture does not restrict only in the local markets, it requires further exploration for marketing the products in different markets.
     This concept; in fact the whole floriculture activities depends on timely supply in fresh form that means; communication facility should be excellent for ushering the profitability of floriculture in Tripura.
     Another aspect is; floriculture is investment worthy this is to say that floriculture activities requires fairly good amount of investment for construction of hi-tech green house for production of different species of flowers of marketable quality. 
      Although, there are certain species that could be cultivated in open field but these also requires lots of attention for producing quality flowers for meeting the national level standards (in case of business scale floriculture with aim to compete in national level).
      However, the journey for floriculture prospect in Tripura has already begun, it is the duty for the concerned department to look and ensure for smooth journey.
    Agritangkol dated 19.01.2012 at 3.00 P.M

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Different Species of Birds in Paddy Ecosystem: A Source of Biological Pests Controls No More Exists Due to Habitat Alteration.


    Biological concept of crop pest management is age old concept, widely discussed and now implemented in various crops fields for managing different crops pests. Biological pest control is highly recommended for such crops whose produces are consumed in fresh form however, same is also applied in other crops too. Success and adoption in the scale is of course another question that requires empirical data(s). 
       As on date there is no clear indication of adoption of biological concept of pest management measures having been adopted by the faming communities in large scale at least in the Tripura perspective.
Of course, this is not the post to evaluate the merits and demerits of biological pest control methods for various crops. 
     This post is aimed to analyze the natualrry occurring pests which are otherwise control mechanisms that used to be playing the good role in managing the pest taking the upper hands in different crop production activities.
       There are certain naturally occuring mechanisms that happen spontaneously in any given ecosystem without the knowledge of the mankind or at least we do no realize what are happening. These naturally occurring biological control mechanisms are now augmented for our betterment in different crop for managing the pest menace. The system is best described with natural food webs that exist in the balanced ecosystem.
       There are different biological agents that worked in favor of the farmers by managing the insect pests and their menace in the natural ecosystem. In paddy ecosystem in the year 1984 to 1993, there happened to be various birds’ species which were found at the time of tilling of paddy fields. 
      These birds were found preying different insects, fishes and earthworms that comes up after the disturbances at the time of tilling of water logged paddy fields.
Different Birds in the System
       I have had the personal experience of spotting different species of birds that flock in the paddy ecosystem for preying of different insects and fishes and mollusks from the water logged paddy ecosystems.
       In the water logged paddy ecosystem two species of crane (small) were used to be found in the paddy field preying on frogs, fishes and insects at the time of tilling of water logged paddy fields. These birds used to be found in dawn to dusk in the paddy ecosystem preying on small aquatic species and insects etc.
       In addition, other birds that used to be found abundantly in the village area are locally known “Shalik” that used to be found in the paddy ecosystem preying on the insects from the paddy fields. 
      Two types or species of “Shalik” species that used to flock in the paddy ecosystem found feeding on the insects which other wise depends on the rice plants as host during the cropping period of rice in the field.
      There was also “DODO” a big bird which was found hunting the crab in the paddy ecosystem during the evening hour in the kharif season. Besides, some other small birds which get attracted during the tilling time of paddy ecosystem used to help the farmers for managing the otherwise insect pest menace of rice crop. 
     Crab in paddy fields is considered menace due to its soil boring nature which ultimately results in leakage or drain out of water from paddy field causing problems to the farmers.

Time of Spotting

     Times of spotting of these birds species were prominent at the time of Kharif season that is to say that activities of different specifies of birds are most promiscuous in this season compare to Rabi season. It is due to the fact that in Tripura, since most of the cropping is dependent on monsoonal rainfall so many crop fields are kept fallow for a period of six to seven months. 
       It is during this time many species of insect, fishes, frogs and mollusk gets time to thrive in the paddy ecosystem and in surrounding ecosystem.
      After onset of monsoon when farmer tills the lands, all these species developed in that ecosystem gets disturbed and come out which attracts all these naturally occurring species to target for.

Reason of Decline

      As far as different species of bird is concerned, it is not seen like before. Reason for such disappearance is as follows:-
           • Change of habitats of different bird species surrounding the fields.
           • Decline of different aquatic species due to application of unscrupulous pesticides.
           • Decline of different aquatic species due to change in rainfall pattern.

Future Challenge

     Now, the challenge that is being felt and anticipated in future is as follows:-
          • Aquatic species viz: different small fishes, mollusk and frogs disappeared will affect in balancing the growth of certain aggressive species.
          • In absence of naturally occurring bio agents, different crop pest will take upper hands.
          • In absence of naturally occurring bio agents, dependent on chemical pesticides and insecticides will increase which would create more harm to the ecosystem.
   Agritangkol dated 17.01.2012 at 11.10 A.M

Sunday 15 January 2012

Food Inflation below (-) 2.90 per cent: Hopes, All are Happy except Farmers!

      The year 2011 had witnessed many events in the country; amongst many such events, inflation was one such subject that has been widely discussed and debated by the Government, different political parties and of course by the economists.
    This unprecedented and most enduring inflation had affected the common people as almost all essential commodities had been subjected to the price escalation which was going beyond the reach of the common people of the country.
     Finally, the growth retardant “inflation” has come down to a level that is beyond the expectation by any one. Media reports indicated that food inflation in India has come down to the below -2.90 per cent according to the NDTV. This negative inflation trend has been reported since last week onwards.
       This is indicatives that, all the food stuff which were used to be sold in exorbitant high prices are now available in cheap (very cheap) and affordable prices.
     Now, what is the effect of such sudden and abrupt downslides of food inflation? Of course, there is no denying that almost all people leaving behind certain groups would be highly delighted to the situation. Happy because, they could save some money in this situation like never before.
       The other groups as referred who could not be the part with delighted group are the farmers, growers and producers. Why they could not be part of the delighted group is; their produce Onion is sold in rupees three per kilogram, their produce Potato is sold in rupees four. Their produce are piled up in the road side and subjected to rotting due to want to buyer.
     This trendy inflation; the situation although seems to be positive indication as far as economy of the country is concerned but in other side there is also miserable aspects that the farmers are facing in the current situation.
      Well, how the food inflation has come down to the below -2.90 per cent level is the matter known and best described by the Government, the policy makers. But the question is; does it involve the farmers’ miseries?
        Already, there are reports for demands for support price for certain produce by the farmers across the country and some states have already declared support price for produce like sugarcane.
     If negative food inflation affects negatively to the farming communities then farmers debt would surmount to the next level; in that case we may not expect for another golden harvest in next season.