Saturday, August 29, 1998
may cut down mustard cultivation
plan for rainfed areas
policy to focus on land consolidation
Developing forest resources in Punjab
ACCORDING to mythology of Punjabi culture, kulli (house, shelter) gulli (food) and julli (clothing) are the basic needs of people. Punjab has brought the Green Revolution in cereal production and White Revolution in milk production to meet the needs for food.
The per hectare yield of cotton has remarkably increased during the past one and a half decades to meet the needs of clothing. However, the state is highly deficit in timber resources to meet the wood-based needs of the people like house construction, fuel, small implements, poles, fabrication of pallets, packing cases, ply and board industry, etc. Presently, Punjab is about 95 per cent deficit in wood resources.
Punjab is having only about 5.7 per cent of its geographic area under forests. However, according to the national forest policy, it should be 20 per cent for the sustainable agro-ecosystem.
During British rule, India had sufficient forest resources to meet the needs of forest dwellers and there was not much pressure for deforestation. The natural regeneration of forest trees was sufficient to meet the needs based on forest resources. However, with the increase in population and development activities, the forest resources dwindled. The deforestation rate increased than that of the reforestation, and the natural regeneration has not remained enough to develop the forest resources.
The situation warranted a change from merely managing and conserving to creating of the new forests. The World Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) lauded the importance of forestry in global environment. So like developed countries, now there is a need to re-establish our forests on scientific lines.
Can Punjab regain its lost glory of green cover? The answer is yes. But we will have to do a lot of sincere efforts with devotion to work. The state does not have much natural forest land for tree plantation. So it will have to evolve a system to grow trees on farmlands along with agricultural crops (agroforestry), on community lands, panchayat lands, phirnis, link roads and on school, hospital, gurdwara and mandir complexes.
It will involve planners, administrators, farmers and common people. Punjab farmers are quite innovative and receptive to new technology provided to them. But there is the need to motivate the planners, foresters and common people.
Unlike agriculture, not much efforts have been made so far to recognise the importance of forestry in the state economy.
The state government should formulate a plan to increase tree cover while maintaining agricultural production.
Growing of trees on farmlands along with agricultural crops is becoming popular among Punjab farmers. To further strengthen the forestry programmes on farmlands, the government should set up either an independent directorate of agroforestry on the pattern of Gujarat and Karnataka or create a section of agroforestry under the Department of Agriculture. Forestry and agriculture graduates should be appointed forest development officers with the main duty to encourage and involve the farmers in tree growing activities.
Vanamahotsava should not be celebrated as a government function but as a peoples programme at the subdivision and block levels. Tree plantation functions should also be organised at the village level. Public participation could be enhanced by involving them at each step like nursery raising, planting, aftercare etc.
The farmers can also be convinced through personal contacts. The organisations like gram panchayats, town area committees, youth clubs, voluntary organisations, etc. must be involved in the protection and aftercare of plants.
Further, the premises of various religious places and government institutions like hospitals, dispensaries, schools, colleges, etc should be used for tree planting. School and college students should be involved in nursery raising and tree planting activities. Every student must plant a tree on his and her entry into the institution. They will have to take care of that tree during their stay in the institution. Forestry and environment should be added as compulsory subjects in schools and colleges.
The trees of some economic values should be preferred for planting along village phirnis. The farmers who own the land alongside the link road should be encouraged to take up tree planting on both sides of the road. The Forest Department and farmers, who own the land alongside highways, rail lines and canals should grow trees.
The farmer should be given aftercare responsibility and the rights to use the tree products.
Tree plantation programmes in cities and towns may be assigned to the municipal corporations and councils along with the Forest and Horticulture Departments.
There was no
buyer and the farmers had to sell their produce at
throwaway prices. Some cottage industries using tree
produce as raw material should be encouraged to expand
the demand for forest produce.
Contingency plan for rainfed areas
AFTER July 20 practically there was rain in southern western districts of Haryana. The monsoon was highly erratic and variable during July. A dry spell of 20 to 25 days occurred in south-western districts which withered the rainfed crops of moong, cowpea, bajra and guar due to moisture scarcity in the root zone.
It would be appropriate to chalkout a contingency plan for areas where rainfed crops have been damaged severely. The soil moisture during the next 30 to 40 days needs to be conserved. In case of moisture scarcity, the alternate rows of bajra, cowpea or moong may be harvested for green fodder in order to save the crop from complete failure. The remaining plant population with the existing available water resources will be able to attain maturity.
Further in bare soil of crop failure areas, moisture may be conserved after every effective rain and then in late September, the toria crop may be sown. The second dose of fertiliser may be withheld in case of poor moisture conditions. Weeds should be wiped out completely.
New policy to focus on land consolidation
THE Centre will bear all extra expenses incurred by the states going in for the consolidation of land holdings, according to Union Minister of State for Agriculture Som Pal.
Discussing the salient points of the proposed new agricultural policy in Calcutta on Tuesday, Mr Som Pal said: Emphasis will be on the consolidation of all land holdings across the country to increase the available cultivable landmass.
The new policy, to be announced shortly, will also focus on updating land records to cut down rural tensions emanating from scattered and unidentified plots of lands, he said.
Calling for legislation to retain ownership of land, he said all the states should allow leasing in and leasing out of land to enable optimum utilisation event when the owner is not holding the land directly.
In the irrigation policy, minor and medium projects would be given priority as they had lesser gestation periods, the minister said.
Besides, a risk management scheme for small and medium farmers would also be floated wherein a farmers insurance body under General Insurance Company would provide crop insurance benefits of 2 to 4 per cent, he said.
The minister said a Rs 75,800 crore perspective plan was also being finalised to bring about 6400 million hectares of land in the country under water-shed management.
The plan, for which the ministry had earmarked Rs 677 crore this year, would be carried out in tandem by the Ministries of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, he said.
The project cost would be tripled next year and based on specific cropping patterns for various agro-climatic zones, Mr Som Pal said.
The policy would also try to restore the lost genetic pool in livestock.
At present almost 19
known and descript breeds of buffaloes, including
Sahibal, Rathi, Tharpalkar and Ganga Teeri, have been
wiped off from Indian gene banks in our enthusiasm to
produce more milk, he observed and said they would
be revived under the new scheme. PTI
Rediscovering buffalos versatility
BANGKOK: Wealthy farmers and agricultural officials in South-East Asia are belatedly rediscovering the versatility and potential of the humble water buffalo, the living tractor of the East.Better late than never, says David Steane, a British livestock geneticist with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.
The reason for South-East Asian tardiness in recognising the buffalos economic potential goes back to the 1960s and 70s when the frenzied era of development and modernisation first hit the Third World.
Everything new, especially foreign, was in and everything old, especially if it was indigenous, was out.The water buffalo the mainstay of Asian agriculture for a millennia became an embarrassment and an all-too-visible symbol of low-tech, even no-tech, present backwardness, apathy and rural poverty.
There would be no progress, ran the arguments, until farmers replaced the offending beast with modern machinery.But now the opposite view is slowly gaining ground.Farmers and officials have finally discovered that the water buffalo is not merely a work animal, but a dependable producer of the milk and meat needed for an expanding international market.
There is good money to be made here, says Steane.A recent report by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), written with American tastes in mind, demolishes much of the negative buffalo dogma.The USDA compared the nutritional value of water buffalo meat with beef and chicken.
The findings read like an advertising executives dream.Asian buffalo meat has 41 per cent less cholesterol, 92 per cent less fat and 56 per cent fewer calories than traditional meat, the report says. It also has a good flavour and texture, can be a substitute for beef in practically any American recipe, and stores well.
Overall, the report says buffalo can be regarded as a delicacy for health-conscious Americans.The verdict vindicates Asian livestock traditionalists who defended the lowly buffalo through its years of ridicule.In South-East Asia, buffalo meat generally sells for 40-50 per cent less than cow beef, because it comes from animals worked until old age.
Their meat is, therefore, tough and stringy.But when the buffalo is raised as a meat producer, says Steane, you get a completely different quality. The meat becomes succulent and tender, at least as tasty as beef and many would say more so.
Pakistan, with about 20 million buffaloes, has built a flourishing industry on the slaughter of male calves for high quality veal. Non-vegetarian Hindus in India and Nepal have no qualms about eating buffalo meat, though cow meat remains taboo.In Hong Kong, three-quarters of the beef served in restaurants in buffalo meat bought at knockdown prices from South-East Asia.
While Souty-East Asia is failing to exploit this valuable animal, says Steane, other more realistic countries are getting rich off it.Buffalo milk accounts for three-quarters of all Indian milk consumption, and in Italy home to half a million prime quality buffaloes it is used to make mozzarella cheese.Asia is home to more than 90 per cent of the worlds estimated 155 million water buffaloes. India, with 82 million, has by far the largest number.
China comes second with 23 million, followed by Pakistan.Bangladesh has less than a million, but the herd is growing at 4.5 per cent a year, the worlds highest growth rate. Thailands herd has halved in five years, and is down to 3.7 million.
Today, Australias buffalo meat and milk industry is so high-tech that buffalo round-ups are often carried out by helicopter. It also earns good money exporting prime breeding stock to a growing number of countries outside Asia, including Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, Central America and even the USA.
Outside Asia, buffalo
herds are growing by 2.6 per cent a year, compared to the
much lower Asian rate of 1.5 per cent, Some Asian
agricultural officials have got the message, be many have
not.Farmers are rediscovering the buffalos
virtues and versatility out of necessity, observes
Steane. With proper husbandry and care, the water
buffalos best days are still to come.
Farmers may cut down mustard cultivation
The mustard oil adulteration cases can have a long-term impact on farmers, who may cut down area under mustard and rapeseed cultivation, according to industry experts.
Farmers may reduce the area of mustard cultivation if they feel the prices could drop sharply in view of the fears of adulteration and ban on edible oil, Vanaspati Manufacturers Association executive director S.K. Chadha told PTI.
The Delhi Government has banned the sale of mustard oil for the time being after adulteration had led to numerous cases of dropsy.The adulteration had led to a sharp drop in the demand for mustard oil, Chadha said, adding that the prices of oil had touched a high of Rs 54 per kg before that.
A leading oil trader who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said mustard oil was unavailable in the market.Edible oil prices have been ruling high this season (October 1997-September 1998) on a one million tonne shortfall in mustard/rapeseed production.
Besides this a decline in the groundnut production and edible oil imports had led to shortage of edible oil in the domestic market.A meeting of the oil industry held in New Delhi on Wednesday failed to find a substitute for mustard oil usage. It, however, decided not to sell loose oil, to register all packages with batch numbers and take delivery with bills only.
The industry also decided
to monitor mustard oil production both at the input and
output stages.The ban has not affected the prices of
other edible oils, he said, adding that adulteration
could have been done by the packers.
Lucrative seed farming
CAN ordinary animal fodder be a lucrative proposition for farmers? Experts are amazed at the way this fodder known as kasni is being grown by farmers along with the wheat and mustard crops and its seed is sold at Rs 1,300 per quintal.
The grain market at Hailymandi, 24 km from Gurgaon, has become the centre of activity for buyers of this seed, who come from Gujarat and Pakistan.
Take the instance of Satya Narain and Ram Niwash Sharma, both farmers of Jautoli village, who had sowed this fodder seed with the mustard crop last November. After harvesting the mustard crop in May, they grew the fodder and later benefited by selling its seed.
Ram Lakhan, a farmer, tells about the medicinal value of kasni. It is used in preparing tonics and sharbat and this is why it has become costlier.
Farmers say that if it is sown with mustard its produce is about four quintals per acre, while it is eight to ten quintals per acre if only kasni is sown. A farmer says that villagers came to know about its profitability when they learned that it was being sold at Rs 8,000 per quintal at Hailymandi, while its rate was higher in the markets of Gujarat and Pakistan. This prompted the farmers to grow the fodder on a large scale.
Kansi can be sown with crops requiring less water.
The fodder has come as a boon to the farmers who had suffered losses due to the failure of the mustard crop.
Traders say that Hailymandi serves as the centre point for the sale of kasni seed for farmers of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Since kasni is categorised in the group of fodder, the market committees do not levy 3 per cent fee on it. Last year 35,000 bags of kasni seed was sold from the Hailymandi grain market and this year it is estimated that around one lakh bags will be sold.
Cauliflower: Sow 250 gm seed of mid season varieties like Punjab Giant 35 and Giant Snowball in one marla bed area. Irrigate the nursery beds with a watering can daily in the beginning and thrice a week thereafter.
Root crops: From the last week of this month, start sowing desi varieties of radish Pusa Chetki and Punjab Ageti carrot (No 29) and turnip (4-white). Before sowing, add 50 kg CAN, 155 kg superphosphate, 40 kg muriate of potash per acre. Prepare ridges 45 cm apart, dibble seed in fully moist conditions. Thereafter, apply light irrigation twice a week. Use 4 kg seed of radish and carrot and 2 kg seed of turnip to sow an acre.
Chilli: Apply second dose of 12.5 kg N (50 kg CAN) per acre to the standing crop of chilli and irrigate. Pluck red ripe fruits once a fortnight to minimise shedding in the fields. Fully developed green fruits may be plucked for use as a salad pickle.
For control of fruit rot, spray the crop with 750 gm of Indofil M 45 or Blitox in 250 litre of water at a 10-day interval.
Bhindi and brinjal: Spray 100 ml Sumicidin or 40 ml Ambush 50 EC or 200 ml Ripcord 10 EC or 160 ml Decis 2.8 EC in 250 litres of water against fruit and shoot borer of brinjal.
In brinjal, spider mite attack can be minimised by spraying 250 ml of Metasystox 25 EC or Rogor 30 EC in 250 litres of water.
The attack of jassid and fruit borer on bhindi can be reduced by spraying 500 ml of malathion 50 EC or 500 gm Sevin 50 WP or 350 ml Thiodan 35 EC in 250 litres of water per acre.
Onion: The planting of the kharif onion crop both with bulbsets and seedlings. Start from third week of August. Apply 25 kg urea, 155 kg superphosphate and 40 kg muriate of potash per acre before planting. Keep lines and plants at 15cm x 10cm and irrigate. Two to three days after planting, spray Stomp EC at one litre per acre to control weeds.
high-yielding varieties in 2 years
THE CCS Haryana Agricultural University (CCSHAU), Hisar, has intensified research in value-added crops like fruits, vegetables and flowers along with developing crop hybrids with more yield potential and tolerance towards diseases and pests.
The university till now has developed over 130 varieties of different crops, including fruits, vegetables, spices and medicinal plants. Some of these varieties have received much popularity amongst the farmers of the adjoining states as well .
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof J.B. Chowdhury, says that the scientists have also been endeavouring to exploit biotechnological techniques in evolving genetically engineered crop varieties. They have achieved success in identifying genes responsible for causing biotic stresses and perfected the gene transfer technique and work on developing genetically engineered varieties of rice and sorghum has been initiated.
However, during the past two years alone, the university has developed over 20 high-yielding and disease-resistant varieties of foodgrain, cotton, vegetables and fodder. These are WH-671, WH-672, WH-912, and WH-913 of wheat, BH-331, BH-338 of barley, Haryana Jaw-8 of oat, Haryana chana-3 of gram, HPWS-55 of Senji, AAH-1-a of cotton hybrid, HHB-94 and HHB-177 of bajra hybrid, HHM-3 of maize hybrid, HTH-1 of tomato hybrid and CoH-10 of sugarcane.
Wheat varieties, WH-671 and WH-672, have attained the first and fourth position, respectively, whereas WH-912 has been adjudged as top yielder in the all-India coordinated trials. The Hisar unnat variety of bhindi has a yield potential of 100 to 125 quintals per hectare and is resistant to dreaded yellow vein mosaic virus.
unnat variety of bhindi has been recommended for
cultivation in Rajasthan and Gujarat, besides Haryana,
under the all-India coordinated vegetable improvement
project trials. The Paras variety of pigeonpea is ideal
for arhar-wheat rotation. The wheat varieties of WH-671
and WH-672 bear bold and attractive grain. These are
resistant to brown and yellow rusts and fairly tolerant
to Karnal bunt disease. They are also fairly resistant to