|AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE||Monday, October 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
Neglect of buffalo males drain on farmer’s income
Potato processing — trendsetter for future
Need to promote agri-business projects
Neglect of buffalo males drain on farmer’s income
India is endowed with a large population of 92.2 million buffaloes which constitute 56 per cent of world buffalo population. The excellent dairy type buffalo breeds such as Murrah, Nili-Ravi, Surti and Mehsana are inhabited in India and are known for high fact content in their milk. The buffaloes are known to be triple purpose animals producing milk, meat and draft. The buffalo as a milch animal is well established producing about 52 per cent of 78 million tonnes of milk produced in the country. However, its potentialities with respect to meat production are yet to be exploited fully.
Buffaloes being primarily milch animals, the females born are supposed to be more remunerative and naturally get preference in feeding and management over males. About 12 million male calves born annually are, thus, not provided their full quota of milk for their proper nourishment during their infantile age. They are allowed to suckle their mothers just for the stimulation required for the letdown of milk, resulting in high rate of mortality. The surviving male calves are, thus, emaciated and grow at a very slow rate and attain about 150 to 200 kg live body weight in about two years of age. On the other hand, the females weight about 350 kg body weight at the similar age due to proper and optimum feeding. The large commercial dairy farmers in cities and in adjoining area dispose of these males a few days after their birth and resort to indiscriminate use of injection of oxytocin harmone to buffaloes for let-down of milk. The surviving male calves in rural areas are sold at throughway prices to the local buffalo traders, resulting in a big drain on their incomes. These neglected and uncared calves can be successfully reared for good quality proteinous food production.
Buffalo has an outstanding potential as a source of quality meat for human consumption. India produced 1.4 million tonnes of buffalo meat in 1997-98 and exported 15,7000 tonnes valued at Rs 110 crore. It is estimated that India has a potential of producing 4 million tonnes of buffalo meat annually with a slaughter rate of 30 per cent of total buffalo population and carcass yield of about 138 kg per animal slaughtered. The ban on cow slaughter is not applicable on buffaloes and, therefore, religious or social ban on good quality food does not come into picture. Buffalo meat is 25 per cent richer in protein content than beef and 50 per cent lower in cholesterol. The amino acid composition specially of critical amino acids of skeletal muscles is higher than in that of beef. The salient features of buffalo meat include lower proportion of fat in meat and large muscle fibre. The meat form young buffaloes reared for early slaughter (termed as buffalo broilers) is lean, tender and palatable. Such meat is of excellent quality and is considered a delicacy.
Research efforts aimed at evolving viable feeding regimen and management practices for rearing such calves as buffalo broilers under rural small holder’s conditions have yielded encouraging results. The students conducted at the Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB), Sub-Campus, Nabha, have revealed that a farmer can earn Rs 8,000 per month by rearing a group of 32 buffalo males. The surplus male calves at about six months of age and weighing about 90 kg can be purchased from fellow farmers in the village at a price of Rs 500 per calf. This small group of calves can be housed in an improvised thatched shed in a walled/fenced enclosure with feeding and watering arrangements. These calves shall be grazed for about six hours daily along canals, in crop remains after harvesting, village fallow lands, etc and shall be supplemented with a concentrate mixture at the rate of 1 per cent of their body weights with ad. libitum feeding of wheat straw which is cheaply available in plenty. These calves will attain an average body weight of 200 kg in seven to eight months at an average growth rate of 450 gm/day. After attaining 200 kg body weights these males can be directly sold to buffalo abattoirs at about Rs 20 per kg live weight.
Where grazing facilities are meagre, these calves can be stall-fed on leguminous fodders and a low cost concentrate mixture consisting of barley (48.5 per cent), deoiled rice bran (48.5 per cent), mineral mixture (2. 0 per cent) and common salf (1.0 per cent) in the 60"40 ratio. Under this feeding regimen, the calves shall grow at a faster rate of 540 gm daily and attain the marketable weight of 200 kg in about six and a half months and shall give almost similar returns as under grazing.
With the challenges of the WTO looming large on India dairy farming and the need for diversification of agriculture it is high time that the farmers shed their age-old prejudices and rear their buffalo males scientifically and thereby supplement their dairy farm incomes by selling these males at an appropriate age.
Potato processing — trendsetter for future
Potato is one of the prominent crops capable of nourishing the world’s population. It occupied an area of 1.2 m ha in the country with a total production of 23.5 m tonnes. It is a perishable commodity and its harvest time (March-April) coincides with the rise in temperature in the plains. From April onwards, the temperature in the plains starts shooting up and the produce has either to be consumed within a short period or is required to be shifted to the cold stores. At present the cold storage capacity in the country is around 8.7 m tonnes, which is inadequate to hold the country’s total potato production. Therefore, there occurs the periodic glut and price crashes in the market. Such gluts occurred every three to five years whenever there is an increase in potato production by 20 per cent or more. It results in the reduction of the area under potato cultivation in the following years. Now when the country’s population has crossed one billion mark, there is an urgent need to increase potato production in the country with increased efforts to bring stability in prices. If a part of the produce could be diverted for its processed food products and/or industrial products, both the growers and consumers would be benefited. The processing sector, which has a capacity to utilise the surplus product, is still at the nascent stage and needs further activation.
Potatoes in India are quite cheap and available in plenty. So in recent times the demand for the processed potato products in the country has risen manifold due to increased urbanisation, rise in per capita income, increase in number of working women and expanding of tourist trade. Realising the importance of scope in the future, several multinational companies were attracted towards the field of potato processing. These companies imported the processing varieties like Agria, Cardinal, Diamant, Fresco and Frito lay 1533 from Europe and America. But, these varieties had been developed with longer crop duration. Some of these varieties do not perform well under Indian agro-climatic conditions. Hence, the potato processing sector, which had been starved due to good quality and adequate quantities of raw materials, needs regular attention.
Suitable for processing: The tuber dry matter and reducing sugar content of potatoes are the two most important parameters for the selection of varieties suitable for processing as these determine the finished product yields after processing. Thus, the potatoes required for processing needs to have tuber dry matter in the range of 21 to 23 per cent and reducing sugars below 150 mg per 100 g fresh weight of tubers. High levels of reducing sugars result in dark colour of the fried products. Round to oval tubers are preferred for the preparation of chips and long ones for the French fries. Further, the processing varieties should have reasonably good yield to provide economic returns to the farmers.
Scientists at the CPRI, Shimla, concentrated their efforts to evolve the varieties that could match the exotic ones for processing purposes. Their hard work resulted in the outcome of two varieties, Kufri Chipsona-1 and Kufri Chipsona-2, in 1998. When these varieties were compared with Kufri Jyoti, which is the most popular variety of northern India, the results showed that both these varieties have low reducing sugar content and low total phenols in the tubers. The phenolic compounds are known to be associated with the enzymatic discolouration of peeled raw potatoes. Low level of polyphenols in Kufri Chipsona-1 and Kufri Chipsona-2 ensures that the raw potatoes when peeled will not discolour on exposure to air Kufri Chipsona-1 and Kufri Chipsona-2 produced more yields and excelled the best American variety Frito lay hybrid 1533 in producing higher percentage of light colour chips.
Adoption of new varieties: The trials conducted by the scientists of the CPRI, Shimla, at various locations showed that the Kufri Chipsona-1 and Kufri Chipsona-2 varieties are superior to the Kufri Jyoti in processing qualities, better disease resistance and are better yielders. The adoption of these varieties, therefore, was not a problem. In West Bengal 95 per cent of potato area is under the variety Kufri Jyoti, but owing to non-availability of process able variety the processing industry did not develop up to the mark. So these two varieties can certainly fill the gap in this state and in other areas because these excels Kufri Jyoti in processing characters.
So with the introduction of Kufri Chipsona-1 and Kufri Chipsona-2, mark has been set in the processing field. Hopefully, in future it will be quite useful to have processing varieties having different maturity periods. It will also help the farmers in making a choice for growing these varieties in various potato based cropping systems.
Need to promote agri-business projects
The Government of India and its various promotional agencies have helped promote hi-tech projects and banks and term lending institutes too have lent their helping hand which resulted in a good number of export-oriented agri-business projects.
The performance of most of the projects does not provide rosy picture when compared to the initial projections.
All the agri-business projects which targeted global markets need to be promoted since many of the Indian agricultural products are competitive globally and India’s share in the global trade of about $ 300 billion in less than 1 per cent. Israel and New Zealand are excellent examples for their leadership in promoting agri-business ventures for the global markets and lessons have to be learnt from them.
Agri-business is not a new concept; it got boosting only after liberalisation in 1992. Agriculture in India, historically, was viewed as a sector to usher in self-sufficiency in foodgrain production and to maintain food security except for a few crops like jute, tobacco, spices, rubber, etc, which were always produced for the market. The Indian agriculture has undergone a spectacular transformation, from that of a basket case in 1950s to a sector self-sufficient in foodgrains in 1970s. And now, the agriculture sector in getting increasingly commercialised. In an ordinarily speaking, commercialisation can be understood as production with the market orientation. Earlier foodgrains were largely produced for consumption and over a period of time foodgrains are being produced for marketing. This has been made possible by a growing market and a favourable price policy for foodgrains. The Green Revolution has played a vital role. The opening up of the Indian economy in 1991 coupled with rising disposable incomes and the discerning consumer preferences have increased the pace of commercialisation of agriculture.
India has been a traditional exporter of spices in raw form, and the current emphasis in on value addition through spice extracts which have a great demand in the confectionery and food industry.
In spite of having a very large cattle and buffalo population, exports from this sector are minimal largely due to the religious taboo and poor hygiene in the abattoirs. Therefore, the current emphasis is on upgradation of the existing abattoirs to produce meat of hygienic standards.
Mushrooms are a delicacy world-over and India is know for its exotic "gucchi" mushroom from Himachal Pradesh and J and K which are collected from the wild.
India has about 3,3000 hectare under various flower crops which are traditionally used in religious and social ceremonies, perfumery, etc. Now the emphasis is being laid on production of cut flower/ornamental flowers grown under controlled conditions for the export markets. The emphasis is on the export of basmati and non-flavoured super fine rice which are processed in modern rice mills into consumer packs.
Banks are also playing important role in promoting export of agri-business. These projects, because of infusion of sophisticated technology, are also capital intensive.
In some projects refinance is being provided by NABARD. NABARD has sanctioned over 400 projects with a total financial outlay of about Rs 12,500 million, bank loan of Rs 5800 million and NABARD refinance of Rs 3,700 million.
The agriculture export went up from Rs 78,900 million in 1992 to Rs 210,210 million in 1997 and now it is Rs 250,000 million. This performance in the agri-export sector is due to a renewed spurt in the exports of traditional agricultural export commodities like rice, pulses, wheat, spices, cashew, niger and sesame seeds, oilseeds, meat, fishery products, etc as also the contribution from hi-tech projects. The need of the hour today is the careful selection of projects and its various components which may make India a major agri-exporter in the years to come.
It has been observed in India that wherever entrepreneurs did through home work in choosing the technology, the project has succeeded.
All the agri-business projects which targeted global markets need to be promoted since many of the Indian agricultural products are competitive globally and India’s share in the global trade of about $ 300 billion is less that 1 per cent.
Farm operations for October
— The best time of sowing kabuli gram (L-550 & BG-1053) in the state except humid areas of Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Ropar is October 25 to November 10 under irrigated conditions.
— Treat the seed with Bavistin plus Thiram (1:1) 3 g or Hexacap 3 g or Rovral 2.5 g or Captan/Captaf 3 g per kg of seed for the control of blight. Grow C-235 or PBG-1 in disease prone areas.
— At the time of sowing, drill 50 kg of superphosphate and 13 kg of urea per acre for desi gram but in the case of kabuli gram, drill 13 kg of urea and 100 kg of superphosphate/acre.
— For raya, use varieties PBR-91, RL-1359, RLM-619 under irrigated conditions and PBR-97 under rainfed conditions. The optimum period for sowing raya is the first fortnight of October. Gobhi sarson (GSL-1, GSL-2, PGSH-51) should be sown from October 10 to the end of October. African sarson PC-5 can also be sown during this month.
— Drill 45 kg of urea and 75 kg of single superphosphate per acre before sowing of raya and gobhi sarson. However, in gobhi sarson on light textured soils, increase the dose of urea to 65 kg per acre. In rainfed conditions, apply 33 kg of urea and 50 kg of superphosphate/acre at sowing.
— Sometimes hairy caterpillars become a serious pest on toria. For its control, apply Malathion dust @ 15 kg per acre or by spraying with 500 ml of Thiodan 35 EC or 200 ml of Nuvan 100 EC in 125 litres of water.
One hoeing to toria after the third week of sowing and one or two hoeings preferably with improved wheel hoe to raya, gobhi sarson and taramira are adequate. Weeds can also be controlled through herbicides as given in the table below.
— Progressive Farming, PAU