|AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE||Monday, August 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
Fatehgarh tops in introducing
Magic morels of Kashmir
Why to depend on imported oilseeds?
INDIA formulated an integrated policy on oilseeds for self-sufficiency under "technology mission on oilseeds" in 1986. From a mere 11 million tonnes during 1986-87, the country attained an all-time record oilseed production of 25 million tonnes in 1996-97. It ushered in an era of yellow revolution. The mission later slowed down and oilseed production dropped to 24.73 million tonnes in 1998-99 and further to 18.6 million tonnes during the current year, and so the availability of domestic edible oil now is only 5.8 million tonnes. Edible oil imports have sharply increased over the decade as output failed to keep up with the burgeoning consumption.
Every year the demand for edible oil seems to be climbing up by 5 to 6 per cent. As a result, the total consumption of edible oil is expected at between 17.4 and 20.7 million tonnes by 2010. Indias imports were expected to rise to 5.15 million tonnes in 2000-2001 from 4.39 million tonnes in 1998-99 when India overtook China as the worlds biggest importer.
Since 1950-51, the area under oilseeds production and productivity has increased nearly 2.5 tonnes, 5 tonnes and two times, respectively. During the last decade, soyabean registered the highest compound growth rate of production followed by castor, sunflower and rapeseed. Groundnut, rapeseed-mustard and soyabean possess a major share, both in terms of area (74 per cent) and production (84 per cent) of oilseeds. As far as productivity is concerned, castor tops the list (1192 kg /ha) followed by groundnut (1155 kg/ha), rapeseed-mustard (1013 kg/ha) and soyabean (995 kg/ha).
The actual area increase came where the oilseed crops were superior options to traditional crops in crop combination. Similarly, the farmers of the water-starved regions of North Gujarat and Rajasthan chose rapeseed over wheat to get better returns from the available water. Farmers responded enthusiastically when they were provided economic incentives under technology mission. They adopted new technological options and practices which brought them big returns.
However, between 1993 and 1997, there has been only a marginal increase in vegetable oil prices in the domestic market. With the result that oilseed production nearly stagnated. Farmers never accepted a combination of low prices and high risks. In some regions, a shift from oilseeds was also noticed. This was a great setback to the technology mission on oilseeds.
The vegetable oilseeds are cultivated in 14 states, of which Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu account for nearly 90 per cent of the oilseeds area and production. Madhya Pradesh has the highest area and production. Madhya Pradesh has the highest area and production followed by Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Among different oilseeds, rapeseed-mustard happens to be the major oilseed crop in seven states; groundnut in four states, soyabean, sesame and niger in one state each.
The government is seized of the issues arising out of large imports of edible oils and poor output of oilseeds. Looking at the present consumption level, an additional consumption requirement would be about five to six lakh tonnes of oils per annum. And if India wants to freeze the level of imports at the existing 4.5 million tonnes and to stop additional imports in the future, it should produce some to five to six lakh tonnes of additional oil each year.
Under the present circumstances, it does not seem to be achievable. And India will continue to depend on oil imports over the next five to 10 years.
However, the government is finding out ways to boost domestic output of oilseeds. The government, in order to motivate to switch over from grains to oilseeds, is thinking of a proposal to pay farmers if they plant oilseeds instead of grains.
To further reduce the gap between demand and local supply of edible oil India has to exploit the supplementary sources contributing about 16 per cent of vegetable oil consumption in the country.
Oil palm is another potential source of edible oil expected to contribute significantly towards meeting the growing edible oil demand. At present, oil palm is cultivated on an area of eight lakh hectares against the potential area of 0.8 million hectares spread over 11 states. With a productivity of nearly four tonnes hectare, oil palm can contribute about one million tonnes of edible oil in the near future, accounting for about 10 per cent of the demand.
With a view to encouraging local farmers to go in for more oilseeds cultivation and protect their interests, the Union Finance Ministry hiked the import duty on edible oils in the current budget to 75 per cent for crude palm oil and 92.4 per cent on palmolein as against 45 per cent on soya oil.
The duty was effective from March, 2001, which resulted in vegetable oils import declining to 2.84 lakh tonnes in March from 3.74 lakh tonnes in February and 3.07 lakh tonnes in March last year.
What is surprising is that the share of palm oil products import increased substantially to 86 per cent from 69 per cent in February despite substantial increase in import duty.
The overall effect, however, proved to be shortlived and vegetable oil import in April jumped to 3.99 lakh tonnes recording 33 per cent increase on 2.98 lakh tonnes same time last year. Malaysia and Indonesia both the main producers of palm products, have resented in the large duty difference between soya and palm products and have sought level playing field. Now the government is in a quandry. The opinions differ. The Agriculture Ministry feels that if the import duty is reduced now it can have adverse effect on the sowing for kharif.
The most significant question arises from the present oil economy scenario of the country. Will India rise to face the challenges and equip itself with global oil trade pressure?
Though Indian vegetable oil complex is at the crossroads, yet technology mission on oilseeds may stand to ease out the oil tension substantially. It should be further strengthened with the following aims:-
Self-sufficiency in vegetable oils.
Reduce instability in the production of oilseeds.
Massive savings of foreign exchange.
Clearoil policy management.
Smooth management of consequences of high prices.
Protection of farmers against imports.
Fatehgarh tops in introducing duckweed technology
FATEHGARH Sahib has become a unique district of Punjab for successfully introducing duck weed technology for the treatment of sullage water, and to make use of this treated water for pisciculture in the rural areas. Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, said that during the sangat darshan programmes it was noticed that a majority of the villages were facing the problem of desilting of village ponds. It had been decided to introduce the duck weed technology developed by the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology in collaboration with Sulabh International.
Talking to The Tribune after inaugurating the new technique at Sanghol village in the district, the Deputy Commissioner said that the development scenario in the rural area would undergo a complete change within a year. He said the Chief Minister was concerned about rural development and had given top priority to providing sanitation facilities.
Giving details about the new project initiated to get rid of the sullage water problem, he said that duck weed is a free floating aquatic plant found worldwide and often seen growing in thick blanket-like mats, nutrient rich fresh and brackish water. The main varities of duck weed used are Lemina, Spindela and Wolffia. The duck weed grown in sullage water pond is used as a complete diet for fish. He said that two ponds had been constructed in one hectare of land. The sullage water of the village after screening comes to the first pond of duck weed and this pond is divided into bamboo grid to retain duck weed in the entire pond. Duck weed grows fast and within 48 hours becomes double. The duck weed absorbs the organic contents, and after treatment the water comes to fish tank through a culvert. Four feeding stations had been constructed in the fishpond to retain the duck weed in these stations as feed for the fish.
Panchayats could earn revenue up to the tune of Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh per year. He said that the expenses would be nominal as only two labourers would be required for maintenance. He said that the operation and maintenance of the project would be given to Sulabh International for one year so as to train the local manpower.
Mr Rajesh Grover, senior scientific officer of the Council for Science and Technology, said that this was the first demonstrated unit of its own kind in the state for the treatment of sullage water of the village. This project had been completed at a cost of Rs 2.20 lakh. Another pond was under construction at Chanarthal village in the district and would be made operational within 10 days. After the successful operation of these ponds, this technology would be introduced in the entire state and at the first stage two villages from the every district of the state would be chosen for the implementation of the technology. He said this technology would help the village panchayats to generate funds as they could give these ponds on contract to private persons also.
Magic morels of Kashmir
EDIBLE mushrooms are considered a very delicious and nutritive food. Several species are found in nature in abundance, but all are not edible. Agaricus Spp. (ascomycetes) and some are artificially grown the world-over.
A magic variety Morchella Spp. morel, guchi or kan-e-gich in Kashmiri grows in the coniferous forests of high hills at elevations between 2500 to 5000 metres above sea level in Jammu and Kashmir, HP and UP hills naturally. A magical combination of rain, thunder and lightening is associated with the sudden miraculous appearance above ground of the morels (kan-e-gich) during spring (May) in Kashmir forests and meadows. Morels are often found in a cluster or a string, tracking the threads of mycellium below.
Depending upon the weather, sometimes morels may be found in cooler areas around old trees. Pulling morels up, it turn out, disturbs the mycellium or the plant which is actually an underground network of threads that bear the morel mushroom as fruit. As a result uprooting the morel and disturbing the leaf cover and exposing the ground, eliminates the future crop.
Different varieties of morels grow all over the world naturally wild, from creamy white to black in colour. The varieties vary in shape, colour and pore size. A few species are Morchella angusticeps, Morchella semilibera, Morchella deliciosa and Morchella esculenta. Kishen Ganga forests, Bangas meadows, Lolab forests, Pir Panjal forests, Kishtwar and Badarwah forest are some of the important areas which contribute to the natural morel produce in J&K.
Fresh morels are a super delicacy food, but hardly reaches the towns and cities, being highly perishable. Sun-dried morels are found in grocery stores of Srinagar, Jammu, etc. The price may be from Rs 6000 per kg of dry "guchi" morels.
Morels are used as a fresh cooked delicacy, cooked in curd with spices or as a mix with pulao/biryani, etc. Artificial growing of morels have not succeeded so far like the mushrooms (Agaricus Spp.). Hunting for magic mushroom (morels) in forests and meadows in Kashmir in spring is a delightful experience.
Farm operations for August
To keep weeds under check, give hoeings. For maintaining proper stand of the crop, thinning may be done in the early part of the month, if needed. Apply 35 kg of urea per acre on the appearance of first flower.
Sometimes cotton crop on high fertility soil attains excessive growth which resulted in low cotton yield. To check excessive vegetative growth spray Mepiquaat chloride 5 per cent aqueous solution @ 500 ml/acre in 100 litres of water 80 days after sowing. It increases the seed cotton yield.
If the second grade jassid injury appears i.e. the leaves start curling, spray the crop with 300 ml Athio 25 EC (Formothion) or 250 ml Rogor 30 EC/Tara 909 (Dimethoate) or 300 ml Metasystox 25 EC (osydemeton methyl) or 75 ml Dimecron 85 SL (Phosphamidon) in 100 litres of water per acre.
Spray the crop with Blitox (500 g) plus Agrimycin (20 g) or Streptocycline (3 g) per acre at 15-20 days interval to control leaf blight, bacterial blight and leaf spot diseases of cotton. Keep the population of white fly under control to check the spread of leaf curl of cotton.
To prevent lodging, prop up the crop by the end of August by using trash twist method.
Iron deficiency has been observed both in the ratoon and plant crop on light textured and calcareous soils. To correct this deficiency, 1 per cent ferrous sulphate solution (one kg ferrous sulphate in 100 litres of water per acre) may be sprayed 2 to 3 times at weekly intervals.
Collect and destroy the infected shoots affected with different borers, particularly that of Gurdaspur borer, at weekly interval regularly to prevent further infestation of the healthy cannes.
In case pyrilla pest is notices in serious form then spray 500 ml or Thiodan 35 Ec or 225 ml of Folithion 50 EC (Fanitrothion) per acre in 100 litres of water.
Sometimes white fly also becomes serious on this crop. Control this pest by spraying 1 to 1.5 litres of malathion 50 Ec in 150 litres of water per acre.
Sow leguminous and non-leguminous crops in mixture to improve the nutritive value of the fodder i.e. maize plus cowpea, sorghum plus guara.
Apply 30 kg of N to the multicut fodder after every cutting.
For controlling itsit/chaupatti in maize, sorghum, bajra, spray Atrataf 50 WP (atrazine) pre-emergence @ 800 g, 400 g and 200 g per acre, respectively, before August 15. Late application will have residual toxicity effect on the succeeding crops like wheat, berseem, etc.