|AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE||Monday, April 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
improved varieties of sugarcane
Japanese technology for rice farming
modified crops: to grow or not to grow
agricultural development in Punjab
The success of the agriculture sector in Punjab after Independence has a few parallels in the world. The much-lauded adage known all over the world as Green Revolution has turned out to be a rather restrictive word symbol to characterise the allround resurgence of agriculture in Punjab. It is a unique case of a revolutionary breakthrough with wheat and repeating the thrust with paddy, cotton, sugarcane, honey, milk, vegetables, etc. Although Punjab has to suffer a lot due to partition of the state at the time of Independence any how the government made gigantic efforts to rehabilitate the refugees. A planned development in the state commenced with the launching of the First Five-Year Plan in 1951 when the emphasis was laid on the agriculture sector. Since then the state has not looked back so far as economic development in general and agricultural development in particular are concerned. Within 20 years Punjab, a deficit state in foodgrains, turned the tables and soon became not only self-sufficient in foodgrains but also the top contributor to the national reserves.
The total foodgrain production in Punjab experienced a tremendous growth from million tonnes in 1950-51 to 21.6 million tonnes in 1996-97. The share of Punjab in the all-India food production shot up from 3.9 per cent in 1950-51 to 11 per cent in 1996-67.
Poor health of the soil compels the farmers to use higher doses of chemical fertilisers. The micronutrients deficiency is also increasing. Most of the pests and weeds are becoming resistant to chemicals. The excessive use of chemicals has started polluting food products and water. No major breakthrough in agricultural research has been achieved at least for a decade. Presently extension series are without any direction and specific programme. Since extension workers have very little new information to offer to the farmers, they feel shy to meet them, thus the contacts between the farmers and extension workers are at the lowest level. Over a period of time substandard pesticides, fertilisers, weedicides and seeds have flooded the market, adding to the frustration. So far major emphasis was on increasing production, thus not much emphasis was laid on quality. In future quality will be the most potent weapon to face the fierce competition and it needs to be nurtured through the right attitude and a quality culture.
Although Punjab is a small state, yet
there are areas having specialisation producing cash crops such as
potatoes, tomatoes, chillies, basmati rice, grapes, kinnow, pears,
etc. To begin with new projects pertaining to high-tech agriculture
can be selected from each district according to specialisation of the
area. A particular crop, vegetable or fruits can be identified for
each block. Punjab Agricultural University can be given the
responsibility to develop suitable technology for each block. The
university should also provide training to farmers and extension
workers of each block through its krishi vigyan kendras. There is also
a need to establish at least one processing unit in each block for
processing the selected crop. A marketing and input supply network
should be developed through local cooperative societies for selected
crop by the export cooperation . There should be a state-level
committee to plan, execute and monitor the new agricultural
useful trees and plants
Chinar is a large handsome tree, found growing luxuriantly in hills, mainly in the Kashmir valley. Its scientific name is platanus orientalis. Its family is plataneae. In medieval era its natural habitat used to be Greece, Macadonia, Armenia, Northern Persia, etc. Looking at its exquisite form and enchanting stature its planting appears to have gradually spread to other countries like Europe, America, etc.
The chinar trees flourish well in light moist soil but not too humid an environment. River banks, at altitudes from 1500 to 2500 m suit them most. In Asian subcontinent it was first cultivated in Baluchistan and Afghanistan. In today’s Indian subcontinent it is found growing in good abundance in the Kashmir valley. The legend has it that chinar was introduced in Kashmir as per the ‘firman’ of Moughal Emperor, Akbar, issued soon after he had conquered the territory in 1588 AD. The British traders and colonisers appear to have carried the seedlings to Baluchistan, Afghanistan and other British hill cantonments in the western Himalayas. It is perhaps by their effort that we have a few specimens of this gorgeous tree in Shimla as well. One such tree is on The Ridge itself and more and larger ones of them can be seen in the backyard of the erstwhile Viceregal Lodge. The tree is so shady and offers a cool and cozy environment of perfect peace on a summer noon.
Chinar is a deciduous tree by phenology. However, it is seldom seen totally leafless. Its leaf is of the shape of human palm — nearly 8 to 12 cm in spread. It is light green in colour. Chinar is a fairly fast growing species. It has annual growth rings and can attain a girth of about 1 m and height of about 30 m in nearly 100 years.
Whereas in American forests chinars of girth up to 44 ft, and height up to 120 ft have been common, on Indian scene the biggest girth so far observed is 28ft, with a height up to 130 ft. On an average chinar bole puts on a growth of about one-fifth of an inch (of thickness) in an year.
The chinar wood is soft and weighs around 16 to 20 kg to a cubic foot. It is generally used for packing cases, ceilings, wall paneling, etc. However, in tracts and countries where hard wood is scarce, the old-timers have been making gun carriages also out of this wood. Its branches, twigs and woodshavings are used as fuel, leaves are used for cattle bed and dried little works as a manure for agricultural fields.
Chinar can be easily propagated by layers (seedlings developing from and out of naked roots) and also from seed. The seed is contained in a ball shaped round fruit. The shell of the fruit has to be broken to obtain the seed. The latter is just sprinkled in the nursery bed and need not be covered with soil.
Keeping in view the increasing
population and shrinking of forest cover, it is highly desirable that
the conscientious ones among foresters and countrymen join hands to
produce chinar nurseries at a large scale and ensure that this
handsome tree is propagated in all vacant spots, especially in and
around gaps in residential homes and office squares.
improved varieties of sugarcane
Sugarcane is the major crop of Haryana which is now grown even in some areas of western part like Sirsa and Hisar districts also. The farmers are harvesting about 280 quintals per acre. The lower productivity of sugarcane in Haryana might be attributed to poor management practices irrespective of high-yielding varieties available for cultivation. The varieties development programme aims at three major considerations — The mill or sugar factories should run at least for five to six months, the recovery should be at least be 9.5 per cent and the area under different varieties should be in such a proportion that the farmers can supply the cane accordingly with demand by sugar mills. Keeping in view the demand of cane in specific periods the varieties of sugarcane have been divided into the following three groups based on their maturity.
COJ-64: This variety is most liked by sugar millers for its sugar content to 20 per cent. Its growth is uniform and good for ratoon. For its susceptibility to red rot and stalk borer it needs proper water and nutrient management practices. Its average yield is 200 quintals per acre. This variety should be grown in the areas of assured irrigation water availability as it is affected under drought conditions.
CO-56: It is a very good ratooner which yields on an average 300 quintals per acre. Because of its susceptibility to red rot and grassy shoots diseases its seed should be given moist-hot treatment before sowing.
COH-99: It has thick solid canes which grow tall. It is resistant to abiotic stresses like floods and drought. Therefore, it can be grown throughout the state for its wider adaptability. It yields 300 quintals per acre. For its tall growing characteristic its sowing should be avoided during October-November as it lodges if sown in winter.
COH-92: This variety is good for autumn planting because of its fast growth. Its canes have 19 per cent sugar and for its sweetness the canes are heavy and thick. Its average yield is 285 quintals per acre. Due to its poor tillering nature, the sowing should be done in narrower rows for compensating less number of canes per unit area.
COS-8436: This variety is considered good under both conditions. It is a slow growing variety having solid canes with broader leaves. Its canes have 17.5 per cent sugar content. Care should be taken while applying nitrogen that the nitrogen fertilisers should not be applied after July.
is a fast growing variety whose canes are thick, soft and very sweet.
Its sowing can be done after the harvesting of the wheat crop in
April. This suits well in poor fertile soils with low doses of
nitrogen nutrient in western parts of the state. As it grows fast it
tends to lodge and needs appropriate earthing and propping. Its canes
have 18 to 20 per cent sugar content and the average yield is 320
quintets per acre.
Japanese technology for rice farming
India has formally sought Japanese help for mechanising rice farming to make it more attractive to young farmers and step up the low productivity levels in the country.
Japan is one of the leading rice-growing countries that developed small farm mechanisation equipment ranging from rice seeder, transplanter, power tillers and rice milling machinery. The request for Japanese help in this area is conveyed at the government-to-government level.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency is helping project-type technical cooperation for promotion of rice farming mechanisation in India. The problem of rice farmers in the country and their socio-economic attitude to rice planting equipment would have to be collected to devise the right type of equipment.
Rice is India’s number one cereal grain with over 84 million tonnes production. Rice is grown in diverse agro-climatic conditions in the country, ranging from high altitudinal villages in the Himalayas to below sea level back water regions of Kerala. The authorities believe that mechanisation of various stages of rice farming operations is crucial for the sustainability of rice production. In India the area under hybrid rice is very less and is placed at about 1,50,000 hectares compared to over 15 million hectares under conventional varieties.
India has to draw up a national plan to increase the acreage under hybrid rice. By 2005 close to two million hectares should be under this variety. This would help increase rice production by about two million tonnes annually.
The Government of India should take
initiative and help raise hybrid rice production. A seed production
policy would be helpful. The services of the private sector in seed
production should be explored and focus should be on research and
modified crops: to grow or not to grow
Genetically modified (GM) crops have become the most talked about issue amongst agricultural scientists and researchers. Some scientists called it "technology of the millennium", while for others it is "neutron bomb of agriculture". Both private and public sectors in the agriculture industry gearing up to battle out the controversy facing GM crops, apprehensions regarding their implications continue to crop on nevertheless. The million dollar question that worries everybody is whether the super crop be able to bring home the second green revolution they promise or become a threat of biodiversity?
What is genetically
Need for GM crops:
The GM crops though cannot solve poverty altogether yet lessen human misery like Masanto’s efforts to change genetic structure of a plant to increase beta-carotene to solve the vitamin A deficiency, which cause blindness in 50,000 to 1,00,000 children every year.
Insects today digest 30 to 65 per cent of vegetable crops like tomato, cabbage, cauliflower and brinjal. In such a situation the farmer could only increase the use of chemical insecticides, which creates many problems such as development of resistance in insects and environmental pollution, etc. It would be possible by genetic engineering to produce insect-resistant vegetables which would not only increase the productivity but also enhance the quality.
Vegetables in our country are transported to long distances, causing their spoilage. If there is a method of delaying the ripening of vegetables, they can easily be transported over long distance. Transgenics (GM crops) provide the solution to this problem by developing ‘flavr-savr’ tomato which had increased shelf life.
Risk factors of GM
Now in India where entire agricultural enterprise is based on sharing and exchange of seeds, this technology may prove detrimental. These seeds will make farmers dependent on the company every year for seeds. Moreover, in our country where farmers are basically marginal and submarginal, they may not be able to afford it every year.
A GM plant which is resistant to chemical herbicide might confer its new properties to is near wild relatives by transferring resistant pollen and thus, making it resistant to chemical herbicides also.
There are chances that the GM crops may create the super pest or entirely new organisms rather than controlling ordinary pests.
Finally, there is also the possibility that GM food products may be allergic to a few people once they enters the food chain. Recent press reports have propagated a possible link between GM food and colonic cancer in experimental animals.
The road of success towards the use of GM crops in commercial agriculture is not going to be smooth if risks are assessed by scientists alone. The decision for the application of GM crops in commercial agricultural would certainly require the satisfactory answers to the concerns of Safety among all cross-sections of society.
— Watch the animals for heat symptoms and get the animal inseminated in mid to second half of the heat.
— Take adequate steps for calf management and feed colostrum with 1 to 2 hours of the birth, irrespective of expulsion of placenta.
— To prevent tick infestation, spray the sheds/barn regularly with 5 per cent Malathion. On the animals, Butox liquid 2 ml per litre of water, or Malathion 0.5 per cent spray can be used and can be repeated after 10 days.
— Keep the shed and animal clean.
— Regularly deworm the calves with piperazine liquid (4 ml/kg body weight) first at 10 days of age, then 15 days and then monthly up to three months of age and then three monthly up to one year of age.
— Make sure that all the animals are vaccinated against FMD. Keep their record and repeat the vaccination after six months.
— Do not feed excess wheat/cereal to dairy animals. This can be fatal.
— Reduce the thickness of litter and change the wet litter.
— Provide cool and fresh water to birds. Provide sufficient water to avoid excess movement of birds.
— Proper vaccination schedule must be followed.
— Vaccinate the chicks of six to eight weeks with Ranikhet disease vaccine and fowl pox vaccine at 8 to 10 weeks of age.
— Start deworming the pullets at three months of age and then regularly at one month interval
— Whitewash the poultry shed from outside, especially roof. This will help to reflect the sun rays.
— Provide artificial lights during early morning so that birds may be able to consume feed in cool hours.
—Increase proteins, minerals and vitamins in ration to provide required amount of these nutrients.
— Make arrangement for the procurement of wheat straw for button mushroom cultivation starting in September.
— Progressive Farming, PAU