Saturday, December 5, 1998
Check termite attack on crops
Economising milk production
Honeybee colonies needs
Untapped potential of
RABBITRY is a success story not only in advanced nations like Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Japan, the USA and the UK but also in developing countries too. China at present is producing 1.20 lakh tonnes of meat and 6,000 tonnes of Angora wool per year and earning hard currency of about $ 2 billion per year by export.
In India, this industry is gaining momentum in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab (Pathankot division) and a few north-eastern states for wool and in Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, etc. for meat production.
In Himachal Pradesh the districts taking up this proposition are Kangra, Chamba, Mandi, Kulu, Solan, Shimla and Kinnaur.
In India, in 1990-91 the total wool production was 40 tonnes of which 24 tonnes was contributed by Himachal Pradesh.
Rabbits are economical because of their early maturity (three months), proliferacy (7-8 young ones) and short gestation period (31 days). Rabbitry can close the protein gap and raise the income of rural and sub-urban people. It requires a few inputs and can be reared by workers lacking in great physical strength. The meat obtained from rabbit is low in fat and cholesterol level. Therefore, it gives an edge over chicken, mutton and pork.
In Himachal Pradesh before 1977 the rabbitry profession was confined to a few hands, but in 1977 the New Zealand white rabbit and in 1986 German Angora were introduced. It was started with great zeal and hope as the state possesses congenial climatic conditions. In the early eighties when this profession was introduced rabbits were distributed free of cost. The newly established farm that time earned a good profit by sale of wool and young ones.
This high profit attracted many entrepreneurs to take up this profession. The prices of wool were as high as Rs 1,000 per kg. To start with when a few farms were there, they had monopoly and they sold only castrated bucks for wool production, and the breeding remained in their own hands. These tactics further attracted more farmers to start this business. In the meantime middlemen were also fascinated and they started supplying rabbits feed for wool as barter system. The high share of middlemen reduced the producers profit. As a result the need was felt to save the farmers from the clutches of these traders and the Himachal Government decided to established a wool federation. The wool federation started purchasing rabbit wool at Rs 1,000 per kg till 1997.
Later the Government of India decided to reduce the import duty on rabbit wool. This decision initiated a downfall in the industry and frustration among rabbit farmers. Industrialists are the main users of raw wool and the imported wool was available at cheaper rate. Consequently, the price of wool were reduced to Rs 850 and finally to Rs 750 per kg. At this price the farmers are just able to meet the cost of production.
Rabbitry gives an opportunity to develop 20 subsidiary industries, including nursery raising, wool farming, cage fabrication, feed formulation, shearing, wool collection and grading etc.
But despite being a useful and profitable industry rabbit rearing for wool is facing operational, social, institutional and marketing problems. The farmers are complaining of recurrence of aflatoxins, non-availability of fresh blood (inbreeding reduces wool yield and increases susceptibility to diseases), non-availability of quality feed and fodder and an un remunerative price of wool.
Since the price of wool is not within the control of farmers, they can only reduce the cost of production by economies of scale, sticking to optimum fodder-feed-ratio and getting technical expertise. However, a big help is needed from the central state governments to fix imported wool at present is cheaper than home produced and this is discouraging the domestic industry.
The use of local breeds, where they exist, should be promoted and direct introduction of selected animals into the production system discouraged. Tourism should provide an outlet for the by-products.
The people need
awareness that the average collection of wool from a
rabbit is 1 kg and average meat comes to be 4 kg which is
three times higher than a yield from a sheep. Shearig of
rabbit is done four times a year. The gestation period is
31 days and it starts rebreeding immediately after giving
birth to young ones, which number five to six. But is is
safe for the rabbit to conceive four times a year. A
person rearing five rabbits will have an annual income of
more than Rs 30,000. Rabbitry is eco-friendly as raised
in stalls and manure is a rich source of plant nutrients.
Check termite attack on
TERMITE, commonly known as white ant, is the most destructive pest of many crops like sugarcane, wheat, barley, cotton, groundnut, pulses, vegetables, etc and also many fruit and ornamental plants. Apart from these agricultural crops, termite poses the greatest threat to timber and all structures throughout the world. Termite obtains its food from cellulose which is available in dead and living vegetable matter.
On the agricultural crops the termite damage is generally during the early stages of the crop plant soon after germination and at the subsequent growth stages. The attacked plants dry up completely and are easily pulled out. The number of plants in a field also declines. The damage is generally more prominent in sandy soils.
The termites are social insects and their colony consists of workers, a few soldiers, a queen, a king and a good number of colonising or complimentary forms. The queen is the only developed female in a colony.
There is only one queen in a colony and could live up to 10 years. She is the head of the colony and is fed with the choicest food. She is housed in the centre of the colony at a depth of about half metre below the ground. The place occupied by the queen is commonly known as royal chamber.
The father of the colony i.e. the king is smaller than the queen but slightly bigger than the colonising forms. The king develops from the unfertilised egg. The king and the queen participate in the forming of the nest. The king mates with the queen from time to time. His life is very small and after his death he is replaced by a new one.
The fertilised eggs laid by the queen develop into colonising forms and workers. The workers consists of 80 to 90 per cent of the total strength of the colony. Their job is to feed the colony and this category of the colony causes damage to the crops. The soldiers, as the name suggests, are the protectors of the colony.
During the rainy season when atmosphere conditions are favourable the colonising forms leave their parent colony. These swarms include the individuals of both sexes. Termites are weak fliers, hence they do not travel a long distance, but with the wind current they could also cover a long distance. By coming into contact with the vegetable matter containing cellulose they cost their wings and mating takes place before or after shedding the wings. This pair may start a new colony as its queen and king. Now the queen gradually grows in size and the number of eggs laid increases. She becomes the egg-laying machine of the colony and could lay 3000 to 5000 eggs in a day. These eggs hatch in 24 to 90 days. Eggs after hatching give rise to larvae. These larvae develop into soldiers and workers and then the process of damage to the crops starts.
Control measures: As the termites pose the greatest damage to the agricultural crops, it is very important that one should adopt the following precautions and control tactics for reducing their attack in the field.
The farmyard manure to be applied in the field should be well rotten.
Sanitation of the field from various weeds and leftover of crops after harvesting.
Regular irrigation and moisture content in the field reduce their attack.
Two-three deep ploughing could also help control this pest.
per cent EC chemical is recommended for the control of
termites in the field. Seed treatment with 4 ml of
chloropyriphos per kg of seed or 7 ml of Thiodan per kg
of wheat seed could help check the termite attack on the
PUNJAB is famous for foodgrain production and is known as the wheat bowl of the country. Farmers of the state used their available resources i.e. irrigation, fertilisers, chemicals, improved agricultural machinery and manpower for maximising crop productivity.This has helped in the development of agriculture-based industries, agricultural engineering goods and transportation. The livestock rearing is an associated enterprise along with agriculture and maintains a complementary relationship. There are 35 lakh buffaloes and 12 lakh cows in the state. The area under the fodder crops is 4.2 lakh ha. constituting about 10 per cent of the total cropped area, which provides about 18 kg of green fodder per adult unit per day and makes available 798 gm of milk per head per day. However, the distribution of green fodder per animal is not uniform.
The state is divided into three main zones submontane, central plain and southern based on the agroclimatic conditions. Therefore, cash/fodder crop practices shall be followed as per the agro-climatic conditions for increased production.
The submontane zone spreads over a 4.6 lakh hectare area and includes the Shivalik ranges in Hoshiarpur, parts of Gurdaspur, Ropar and Patiala districts.
The central plains, covering an area of 31.6 lakh hectares, include Amritsar, Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib and parts of Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Patiala and Sangrur districts. The major problems of these areas are excessive seepage of water and plant nutrients, waterlogging and soil salinity.
The southern dry zone occupies an area of 14 lakh hectares in the districts of Ferozepore, Bathinda, Mansa and parts of Sangrur, Faridkot and Patiala. Poor quality of sub-soil water, lack of irrigation and sandy soils are the major problems.
The submontane zone occupies an area where dairy farmers are not getting sufficient fodder to feed their animals even during monsoon season. The Forest Department has taken measures to control the soil erosion and landslides. Where non-browsable bushes and shrub species have been planted. The shrub species i.e. lantana camara spreads fast and does not allow the grass species to survive. Efforts should be made for the plantation of subabul (leucaena leuco cephala), anjan tree (hardwickia binata), kikar (acacia arabica) shevri (sesbania aegyptiaca) mulberry (morus alba and M. indica), maharuka (ailanthus excelsa), bhimal, etc. and to preserve crop residues, their treatment, preservation and storage during the crop season by bringing from neighbouring areas.
The tree/shrub species can be planted on the hills, slopes and gullies as per suitability. Grasses like hybrid napier, para grass, setaria, anjan, buffel, spear, marvel, pennisitum should also be introduced and propagated along the banks of small stream, bundhs and other wasteland/waterlogged lands.
The topography of the central plains is flat and irrigation facilities are in abundance. There is hardly any gap between the two main crop seasons. There is the need for the introduction of short-duration crops.
Farmers are advised to follow short-duration crops preferably legumes for fodder production and pulses in their crop rotation as per suitability.
Burning of crop residues, especially paddy straw and stalks of wheat crop after combine operation, destroys high amount of organic matter which is already deficient up to 31 per cent in the country. It also burns the soil organic matter, microbs and minerals.
These crop residues could easily be fed to livestock after treating with 4 per cent urea solution when the energy demand is high during the winter season.
The main cereal fodders are sorghum, maize, bajra, teosinte and guinea grass, while fodder legumes are cowpea moth bean, cluster bean and berseem field pea, methi. It is essential to maintain cereal and legume ratio of 60:40 for economical milk production, while farmers are incurring 65 to 70 per cent of the total cost of milk production on feeds and fodder. It is impractical for a small and marginal farmer to maintain the proportion of protein and carbohydrate rich fodder all the year round through green fodder in required quantity. While cereals grow in abundance during monsoon and legumes during winter and summer months.
The solution is simple and within the reach of common farmer i.e. preservation of cereals as silage, a minimum 5 MT for feeding two lactating animals for 150 days at 15 kg/day or converting 250 kg of hay from chopped berseem/lucerne during March-April, feeding 1 to 1.5 kg per animal for 75 days during monsoon to make the ration economical and cut down the cost on cattle feed.
In the southern zone dry farming technologies for crop and fodder production need to be emphasised. Recommended crops and their varieties with judicious use of fertilisers, pesticides and irrigation water to be adopted. Mixed cropping, inter-cropping and overlapping pattern of crop production would help farmers and ensure crop production during drought. Tree plantation on the common land, farmland and wasteland would be beneficial for providing biomass for feeding livestock, fulfil local fuel and timber requirements.
In Punjab 3.5 lakh milk producers in 4,857 dairy cooperative society villages in 11 milksheds have been benefited through voluntary participation. The federation has established a fodder seed processing and marketing unit at Bassi Pathana in Fatehgarh Sahib, which is producing and marketing Verka brand high-quality fodder seed at about 5000 quintals per year.
To further improve the
production efficiency of these animals, Milkfed has also
installed two cattlefeed manufacturing plants at Khanna
and Ghania-ke-Bangar with an installed capacity of 300 MT
per day. These plants have marketed 70,000 MT of balance
cattle/bypass protein feed during 1997-98, making
available 300 gm of cattle feed per litre of milk
colonies need ventilation
Though the colonies were managed and the beekeepers fully satisfied with the diagnosis and remedial measures, the losses incurred on the economic front could not be compensated.
The beekeepers could not harvest the expected honey crop as the colonies were taking time to build up in strength and produce the required work force.
Colonies could not be multiplied for financial gains. The original stock remained under stress. There was less inflow of pollen and nectar and hence less brood rearing. As colony build-up was slow there was no scope for division and/or multiplication. Hence the beekeeper suffered on both fronts.
But this was not all. There was more misfortune in store for the North-Indian beekeeper. After barely two months, complaints again started pouring in about abnormal behaviour of bees and this time epidemic of a larval/brood disease was suspected by the beekeepers. The beekeepers from Himachal Pradesh took to early back migration of their colonies. They were seen halting at Narkanda an attitude of 8000 feet from May to August before transporting colonies for precious honey collection from plectranthus. These colonies were performing normally. The problem apiaries were visited and the colonies examined. The situation observed was as under:
Colonies were very strong with full 10 frame bee strength
Bees were clustering outside under the hive
Bees were throwing out larvae
Bees had shifted from the central combs and were sitting in the corners of the hive interior
There was some rotting smell coming from the problem colonies (probably because the uncovered brood was decaying)
The bottom board was clean
There was optimum propolising in the colony
The queen was located on the peripheral combs
Stores were abundant. There was nectar as well as sealed honey and pollen
Brood was present on seven out of 10 frames
There was profuse flowering of rich bee flora such as barseem, eucalyptus and sunflower.
Interpretations and recommendations:
All this would definitely have suggested some brood disease. The only clue to the contrary was obtained from the colonies with supers and some colonies that had been provided with additional ventilation outlets by progressive beekeepers from Kashmir. The honeybees in these colonies were performing normally. Comparison of the internal environmental conditions in the problem and normal colonies suggested that the problem colonies were suffering because of poor ventilation provisions and lack of proper management. The beekeepers were not dividing their colonies in order to get good strength of bees for pollination in apple as they were going to migrate back. There was congestion in the hive. The temperature of the brood nest increased. The bees, therefore, left the hive and clustered outside leaving the brood uncovered. The unattended brood began to decay and hence the foul smell of rotting brood.
The beekeepers were advised either to divide the colony or to add supers. Ventilation was improved by regulating the size of the hive entrance. The results were immediate. Within a few hours of providing space in the colonies the bees began to settle on the combs, started cleaning and gleaning activities and showed signs of normalcy.
With beekeeping, therefore, it is not always drugs and medicines that have the cure. Very often it is understanding the behaviour of the bees and providing proper management.