Agriculture Tribune
Monday, October 18, 1999
 
Rabbit farming on the decline
By Satish Handa

RABBIT farming was booming till last year, but affected by the government decision to withdraw duty on the import of wool in the country the business has suffered a decline during the past one year as a result more than 12 rabbit rearing farms in Ambala district of Haryana are on the verge of closure because of poor demand for kits as well as wool.

Delay in research schemes at CCSHAU
By V.P. Prabhakar

DROPOUT of students, delay in research schemes, non-posting of scientists and staff on arid fruit research schemes, delay in deposit of employees’ contributory provident fund and shortage in the supply of seed to the Haryana Seed Development Corporation (HSDC) reflect the working of the Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar.

  Need to harvest micro-organism wealth
By Suraj Bhan Dahiya

IN India, the average farm size is reducing continuously due to fragmentation of holdings and small farm efficiency has been an interminable source of debate. The blooming fields and highly productive livestock here and there do not reflect the overall prosperity of the peasantry, the scenes of low productivity in farms, ill-fed animals and people struggling hard to make both ends meet are not rare.

Farm operations for Oct
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Rabbit farming on the decline
By Satish Handa

RABBIT farming was booming till last year, but affected by the government decision to withdraw duty on the import of wool in the country the business has suffered a decline during the past one year as a result more than 12 rabbit rearing farms in Ambala district of Haryana are on the verge of closure because of poor demand for kits as well as wool.

The technology of the rabbit farming was adopted by small and marginal farmers and landless labourers in rural areas. There was a good demand of rabbit wool from the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh, which was easily sold at the rate ranging from Rs 900 to Rs 1400 per kg, depending upon the quality. On an average 600 to 700 gm of wool is procured from each rabbit in a year, besides sale of kits at the price of Rs 250 to Rs 300 each as a female rabbit usually gives birth to eight to 10 kits, subject to the mortality rate of 20 per cent thrice a year after the gestation period of between 29 to 35 days and the process is known as “kindling”. Due to an excess import of cheap and good quality wool to India, the “Angora wool” has lost market in the country and the price of rabbit wool has witnessed a drastic decrease — Rs 500 to Rs 600 a kg. There is a shortage of buyers even at this price. Sources say a huge quantity of wool is lying in stock with the Sheep and Wool Research Institute at Garsa in Himachal Pradesh.

According to Safeer Alam, a scientist at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Tepla, near Ambala, for rural developments, the success story of rabbit farming depends upon several factors, including location and the design of the rabbit house. Being a burrowing animal, rabbit has short reflexes and grooms in a peaceful environment. The ideal temperature for rabbits is from 10C to 26C and can survive even at 0C and the maximum 33C. They are sensitive to humidity below 55 per cent but feel comfortable in the humidity level ranging from 60 to 70 per cent with exposure to light for at least eight hours in a day.

The rabbits are usually kept in wire mesh cages of 3 ft x 2 ft size having 15 inches height under hygienic conditions to save them from the common “coccidosis” disease. Young rabbits’ only food is mother’s milk for 20-21 days after birth and thereafter they start chewing straws of grass. The average intake of an adult rabbit ranges from 125 to 150 gm per day and for lactating animal the quality is increased to 350 to 375 gm a day.

“Coccidiosis” (prone to diarrhoea, constipation and jaundice), ear canker or mange (causing inflammation inside of ear), pasteurellosis (snuffies, pneumonia, otitis, media, conjunctivities and abscess), sorehock (a sort of infection), heat prostration (when the temperature soars beyond 35C), paralysis, hairball ocelusion, infectious arthritis, kidney fibrosis, leucosis, uterus carcinoma, rabbit pox, epilepsy, encephalitis, syringomyelia, etc. are some of the diseases rabbits suffer.

Rabbit farming was started by an entrepreneur in the early sixties at Kulu in Himachal Pradesh. In 1986, German angora rabbits were imported in a farm near Palampur. At present the total rabbit population in more than 200 farms in Himachal Pradesh is more than 15,000. Kangra tops in rabbit farming having 57 big and small farms and over 4,000 rabbits producing 2.40 tonnes of wool annually.

“We started providing training in rabbit farming in our research centre at Tepla, near Ambala, last year to assist farmers to examine the socio-economic characteristics, farm structure, operational problems, the financial requirements, input-output relationship and benefit cost analysis,” Safeer Alam says and adds “the slump in demand has forced us to discontinue the training programme as the import policies have made rabbit farming business uneconomical and sick. A slump in rabbit farming has started hitting rabbit farmers severaly in Himachal Pradesh as well as Haryana.

The rabbit farmers at Ambala talked about various problems pertaining to operation and marketing. A majority of them have an insufficient marketing system. “There are no ready customers of rabbit products, especially wool, and with the price of the wool having gone so low it is difficult to meet the expenses and run the farm,” said Safeer Alam. He suggests that the government should take the necessary steps to establish organised wool markets in the area, provide financial assistance in terms of subsidies to improve the economic condition of the farmers, provide breeding stocks at subsidised rates, made available cheaper feed and above all put a ban on the import of wool to help the farmers dispose of wool.
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Delay in research schemes at CCSHAU
By V.P. Prabhakar

DROPOUT of students, delay in research schemes, non-posting of scientists and staff on arid fruit research schemes, delay in deposit of employees’ contributory provident fund and shortage in the supply of seed to the Haryana Seed Development Corporation (HSDC) reflect the working of the Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar.

Haryana has a geographical area of 4.4 million hectares. Agriculture and animal husbandry constitute more than 50 per cent of its domestic product and agriculture provides direct employment to more than 70 per cent of its population. For furtherance of agricultural interests of the state, the CCS Haryana Agricultural University was established in February, 1970, under the Haryana and Punjab Agriculture University Act, 1970, after the bifurcation of the erstwhile Punjab Agriculture University.

Six hundred twenty students for Ph.D and 1,171 students under postgraduate programmes were enrolled in the university during 1991-96, of which 132 students (21 per cent of the enrolment for Ph.D) and 274 students (23 per cent of enrolment for postgraduate programmes) dropped out. The university stated that dropout was for better opportunities or employment, and dropout was not peculiar to the CCSHAD as it was a general phenomenon on in every university. The CCSHAU, however, did not conduct any evaluation or review to identify the reasons for dropouts and ways to reduce such expenditure. A sum of Rs 6.62 lakh was spent on stipend, contingency, etc on these 406 dropouts.

Research on 348 programmes in various areas, according to an audit review, was in progress in 1995-96. On 36 schemes, which were more than 25 years old, Rs 16.23 crore and on 47 schemes, which were more than 20 years old, Rs 12.80 crore was spent.

Of the 348 programmes, 25 research programmes were such which were in operation since the inception of the university in 1970. Of the 87 schemes (less than five years old), 17 were completed in 1995-96 and the final reports in respect of 12 of the 17 schemes were submitted to the funding agency.

Research projects, according to the review, on arid fruits and research schemes on soil and water management involving expenditure of Rs 34.09 lakh, made poor or no progress as the required scientists or staff were not posted.

The comptroller of the HAU is responsible for all accounting matters, including presentation of annual budget and statements of accounts. The Director, Local Fund Accounts, Haryana, audits the accounts of the HAU. As provided in the university act, the HAU was required to prepare the annual balance sheet. However, annual balance sheets were not prepared since the inception of the HAU. The accounts prepared every year were merely consolidation of transactions relating to receipts and payments which neither reflected the assets and liabilities at the end of the respective financial years nor gave a correct idea of developmental expenditure and receipts thereto.

The comptroller stated that the HAU was not a commercial institute and in view of its vast sphere and nature of accounting procedure, it was not possible to prepare the balance sheets. The audit did not agree with this and opines that in the absence of a balance sheet, the position of liabilities and assets was not ascertainable and the same was required to be prepared under the Act.

The inflow of funds and grants-in-aid from the state government, the ICAR and other agencies constituted 80.9, 15.3 and 3.8 per cent respectively, of the total funds grants received in 1991-97. It was noticed that at times the excess expenditure was met by taking a loan or advance from employees’ contributory provident fund (CPF) and the funds received for deposit works, etc, which was irregular.

Further, the HAU delayed deposit of employees’ CPF for September, 1995 , October, 1995, August, 1996 and September, 1996, by 14 to 52 days and drew a loan of Rs 2.45 crore in 1995-97 from the CPF account to meet extra expenditure. Out of the income of the HAU, Rs 7.20 lakh was paid in 1995-97 as interest against loans and delayed deposit of the CPF subscription. This was said to be in contravention of the CPF rules which do not permit such withdrawals.

Of 550 hectares of land available for cultivation with the HAU farm, 35.52 to 216.38 hectares remained uncultivated (fallow) in 1991-97. The farm was required to produce foundation seed mainly to meet the demand of the HSDC. However, it was noticed during audit that the HSDC’s indented quantities of seed could not be supplied by the farm in 1992-96. The Director, Farm, said that the entire quantities were not supplied either due to less production or due to change in demand, by the HSDC. Further, the surplus seed over and above the demand of the HSDC was sold to farmers or seed producing agencies.

The actual average yield per hectare in respect of seed of moong, mash, cotton and arhar was low in comparison to the expected average yield during 1991-97 and in respect of “barseem” from 1991-96. The average production of major crops in the HAU farm was also less than the average production for Hisar district in 1991-86.

The Director, Farm, stated that the shortfall in the average yield of seed in some cases was due to unfavorable weather conditions, general deterioration of land due to rise in water table, salinity, etc. The audit report says that the reply was not tenable as the targets were expected to be fixed by the crop production committee after taking these factors into consideration. Moreover, the yield at the farm, where expertise of the agricultural scientists and modern techniques of farming were available, should have been exemplary and higher than the average yield achieved in the same district.
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Need to harvest micro-organism wealth
By Suraj Bhan Dahiya

IN India, the average farm size is reducing continuously due to fragmentation of holdings and small farm efficiency has been an interminable source of debate. The blooming fields and highly productive livestock here and there do not reflect the overall prosperity of the peasantry, the scenes of low productivity in farms, ill-fed animals and people struggling hard to make both ends meet are not rare.

The general view now is that small-size agriculture can maximise per acre employment and output (income) if its micro-organism wealth is harnessed. Dr K. Haridasan, enthnobotanist at the Itanagar State Forest Research Institute says that multinationals are attacking our priceless micro-organism wealth and we should not allow them to exploit it. Instead, the farming community should be taught the basics of living organisms for better economic life.

For the past couple of years Indian scientists are fighting undeclared wars against multinationals. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has a network of around 40 laboratories. Most of these labs are doing quite well. Take a look at the money they now earn from the industry, or the dramatic increase in the international patents which they have filed — from 18 in 1993-94, the number of international patents filed has gone up to 110 in 1998-99. In a vision paper, the CSIR has projected a target of 500 international patents by 2001. By March this year the cumulative figure had already reached 350. What this suggests is that the problem is not with Indian scientists but the system in which they were asked to function.

The challenges now facing Indian agriculture are daunting in that research and extension system as they are practised today are not percolated. Interaction with the domestic industry is still far short of what it could be. The annual industrial production based on the CSIR technology has gone up, of course, but modestly. Far too many domestic companies still prefer intellectual piracy and reverse engineering and so are not willing to either pay for technology and perhaps even absorb it.

So technology adoption and dissemination is the biggest problem of our agro-industries. For example, the technology developed by the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants for the cultivation of geranium has not reached the farmers. With this technology a farmer could earn about Rs 1.40 lakh per acre but the farmers take it unbelievable as no industry ensures them for the purchase of their geranium crop for finished product-perfume oil. Consequently, India is forced to import geranium oil over worth Rs 100 crore annually. So is the case of the guldaudi crop which is in heavy demand in the USA and European countries. It gives an insecticide which destroys mosquitoes, cockroaches, etc.

Technology, therefore, may change the life of farmers but the “lab-to field” programme has completely failed in our country. Almost in every state the agro-industries corporation is functioning but none has come to the rescue of the hapless peasantry. Dr Sushil Kumar, Director, Central Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Research Institute, Lucknow, has demonstrated the cultivation of mint at Jennabad village, 11 km from Lucknow. Thirty-year-old young farmer Ram Lakhan owns half a acre of land. His five-member family is leading a very happy life on this piece of land by cultivating mint. The comparative economics of mint farming is very interesting argues Dr Sushil Kumar. One hectare of potato crop fetches Rs 20,000, the same amount is got from the wheat or gram crop. But mint crop gives Rs 40,000 per hectare.

The farmer can earn even more from mint if he installs an oil extracting plant at his farm. After extraction if he converts the oil into crystal form his income will go up to four-five times. The future of small farmer thus lies in finished goods of their crops. Does this really bother our government? Sustainable agriculture in the 21st century will be based on appropriate use of biotechnology information technology and ecotechnology. Practical achievement in bringing about the desired paradigm shift will, however, depend up on public policy support and political action.

Not perennial Green Revolution for food production but the gene revolution for biological sovereignty should be the aim of Indian agriculture for the 21st century. A new scientific discipline of genomics has arisen. This discipline will contribute to powerful new approaches that can be used in agriculture as well as medicine and will help to promote the biotechnology industry in India. but for this, we have to prepare our small farmers which will be the central force to transform India into a strong economy in the next century. It is, however, essential to take following steps for optimising our micro-organisms wealth:

— The farmers should be educated in this respect through a strong extension machinery.

— Training programmes should be organised for farmers to take up the processing of their raw produce with swadeshi technology.

— Credit and subsidy should be made available to farmers.

— An effective market promotion needs priority.

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Farm operations for Oct

Ornamentals

Annuals: The seedlings (10 cm) of winter season annuals should be transplanted in this month at 4-6 leaf stage in the flower beds or pots. The seeds of winter season annuals can also be sown in the nursery beds for raising seedlings. The pot flowering plants like calendula, gazania, pansy, allyssum, petunia, etc can be planted in the pots to allow sufficient time for their development.

Chrysanthemum: Manuring of weak plants and staking of heavy branches using bamboo sticks is required. If required, disbudding of side branches should be done. The root suckers should be removed. Spray of Malathion @ 0.2 per cent is required to control the insect attack on the flowering buds.

Roses: — Pruning of roses is done in this month for removing the diseased/dead and crisscrossing branches. The cut ends should be treated with Blitox or Bordeaux paste immediately after pruning of spray the plants with Bavistin @ 0.2 per cent.

— Hoeing of rose beds, removal of suckers and application of FYM, near the base of the plants after exposing roots is done in this month. Apply Thimet 10 G @ 1 TSP per plant to check the attack of scales and other soil-borne insects. Irrigate the plants after application of FYM late on.

— The new plants of roses can also be planted in this month.

Bulbous plants: The bulbs of narcissus (nargis), gladiolus, dahlia, etc can be planted at 7-10 days interval in this month. Stop watering summer bulbous plants like caladium football lilly, etc when they shed leaves and uproot the bulbs 7-10 days after stopping water. Store the bulbs in cool place after treating with Bavistin @ 0.2 per cent for 20 minutes.

Permanent plants: The grown up shrubbery plants like acalypha should be pinched in this month to encourage new growth because the cold adversely affects old leaves much more than new ones.

Horticultural operations

— The newly planted young fruit plants being tender, need lot of care and attention for their survival and growth. They should be watered at frequent intervals. The young plants of mango, litchi, etc need stalking so as to make them grow upright and straight. Remove all the sprouts on root stock which have grown below the budunion. The termite attack, if noted, should be checked by applying chlorpyriphos @ 1 ml per litre in the soil around the young plants followed by irrigation.

—The orchard soil should be cultivated for the control of perennial weeds like baru kahi, motha, parthenium, etc.

— To full grown guava plants, apply one kg of CAN, 1.25 kg of superphosphate and 0.75kg muriage of potash during this month.

— To control the insect-pests of citrus, spray 570 ml of Thiodan 35 EC (Endosulfan) or 300 ml of Malathion 50 EC per 500 litres of water.

— To control citrus leaf folder, spray 625 ml of Nuvacron 40 EC or 1250 ml Dursban 20 EC or 1000 ml Ekalux 25 EC in 500 litres of water. Remove webbing to check the bark eating caterpillar and apply 100 g BHC (Lindance) suspension in 10 litres of water into the holes with wash bottle. Treat all the alternate host plants in the vicinity.

Progressive Farming, PAU
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