|AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE||Monday, December 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
Chandan: hard to grow, gold to reap
CHANDAN (Santalum album) is a small-sized evergreen tree from the family Santalaceae. Its other regional Indian names are Gandha, Sreegandha, Malayaja, Sandhanam, Gandhapu, etc. This plant is recognisable from its rough and dark grey bark having shallow yet prominent vertical fissures.
threat to farmers
not just for eating
FARMING IN JANUARY
CHANDAN (Santalum album) is a small-sized evergreen tree from the family Santalaceae. Its other regional Indian names are Gandha, Sreegandha, Malayaja, Sandhanam, Gandhapu, etc.
This plant is recognisable from its rough and dark grey bark having shallow yet prominent vertical fissures. The branches being drooping, its leaves are generally opposite, measuring about 6-8 cm x 2-4 cm, and elliptic-ovate in shape. New buds keep sprouting throughout the year, replacing the old leaves simultaneously.
Chandan bears flowers once during February-March and then again during August-September. The flowers, 5-10 mm in diameter, are mildly fragrant and purple to brownish in colour. The fruit appears within about 3-4 weeks of flowering and ripens in another 6 to 8 weeks. The fruit is globose drupe, 3-5 mm in diameter, smooth, fleshy and purple to blackish in colour. These are acrid in taste and few birds or animals eat them. The seed inside the fleshy endocarp is tiny— 6000 of them make a kilogram. The flowers and fruit of Chandan are of little utility. The tree has its importance mainly because of its scented wood and oil.
Chandan occurs naturally in areas between 300 to 1000 m above sea level with about 50 to 160 cm of annual rainfall. It thus occurs naturally in Peninsular India. It comes up well in common loamy, well-drained soil, rich in iron. Black cotton soil and or water-logging are unsuitable.
Chandan puts on volume at a moderate rate of growth—putting on a thickness of approximately 1cm per year in diameter. Thus, in suitable environment it puts on about 25 to 30 cm in about 40 years, which is reckoned as the exploitable age and dimension.
Chandan wood is straight and close-grained, fairly hard and oily. It weighs nearly 25 to 30 kg to a cubic foot. The sapwood is greyish white having little scent. The heartwood is yellowish brown and pleasingly scented. It also yields equally scented and medicinally useful oil on distillation. It is good for carpentry as well. Some also use it for coffins.
A paste of chandan wood and or oil is reportedly useful for treating skin diseases, burning sensation, cardiac debility, cough, jaundice, bronchitis, cystitis, inflation, gastric irritability, intermittent fever, etc. The bark is useful against malaria. The oil from the wood helps in treating dysuria, gonorrhoea, cough, tuberculosis of gall bladder, etc.
More than anything else, Chandan is of immense religious importance to Hindus. Many people believe that proximity to this tree in any way keeps the head cool, physique healthy and the temperament satvik, i.e., endearing traits of a god-fearing psyche. Accordingly, chandan is one of the costliest woods. Its retail price is nearly two rupees per gram, and the oil much more costlier.
Chandan is a prolific seed bearer. A three to four years old plant starts flowering and fruiting. But genetically useful seed is available only after 20 years. The plant is parasitic in its initial stages. The seed germinates better under the shade of leguminous plants, bushes and trees. New plants also develop from root suckers. Young seedlings survive better under host plants like lantana, arhar / Cajanus indicus, Neem, Cassia siamea, Dodonea viscosa, etc. New seedlings also come up and do well under mature mother trees. In a favourable environment, once a crop is established, regeneration follows naturally.
For artificial propagation, seed is collected during October-November, de-pulped, dried in shade and stored in properly disinfected gunny/polethene bags. Nursery sowing in polythene bags is done during May-June. The seeds of the host plant like arhar are also sown along with it and simultaneously. Dribble sowing, direct in the field, is done during June-July, preferably under clumps and bushes of suitable host plants. The seed is soaked in lukewarm water for 24 to 48 hours before the actual sowing.
Chandan seedlings are shifted to the field when these have 4 to 6 leaves. The survival of the species in new areas being difficult, planters have to have a dogged determination to succeed. Economics-wise, Chandan seedlings planted initially at a spacing of about 6’x6’ can on maturity in about 40 years give nearly 10 mature trees of about 12-inch diameter per kanal of land. One such tree may yield nearly 5 cft of economically useful quality heartwood, if not more. That will weigh nearly 150 kg, marketable for nearly two lakh rupees.
Quite a few Chandan
trees are growing at and above Bilaspur and Jawalaji towns, under the
jurisdiction of Bilaspur and Dehra Gopipur forest divisions of
Himachal Pradesh, respectively. The Divisional Forest Officers at
Bilaspur and Dehra Gopipur have fenced and closed the forest areas
having a small yet good crop of Chandan trees to save these from
numerous avoidable biotic factors. They are conducting experiments on
collection of the seed, pre-sowing treatment for it, selection of
appropriate host plants and standardising a procedure for raising and
cultivating the species. Dr Y.S.P. University for Horticulture and
Forestry, Nauni, Solan, too has been conducting a research on
artificial raising of the species. These authorities are willing to
share their knowledge acquired so far on the subject.
a threat to farmers
MNCs are trying hard to capture the massive Indian seed (agriculture) market to the detriment of farmers and entrepreneurs.
However, instead of taking protective measures, agricultural authorities in India are creating chaos by not taking a definite stand on their behalf.
The Indian Cabinet, on the recommendation of the Union Agricultural Ministry, decided a few months ago to join UPOV (International Union for protection of New Plant Varieties), which has been dubbed by agricultural experts in India as red-carpet welcome to the MNC seed breeders to enter India, ignoring the traditional knowledge of centuries in this field.
India, considered among the world hot spots regarding biodiversity, has a rich variety of genetic resources, including 45,000 plants embracing a large variety of crops that indigenous communities have developed over the centuries. Indian farmers still continue the tradition of developing seeds by identification and propagation. This unique pool of genetic resources is well adapted to local conditions.
In view of this situation, why has the Union Cabinet decided to join UPOV and why is UPOV anxious to have India join it, even offering the bait of relaxing its regulations?
Taking the second question first, it may be pointed out that India had not joined the first UPOV convention of 1978. It also stayed out of the 1991 UPOV convention which had been more to the advantage of local farmers than the 1978 convention and which left more room for the local peasant operations regarding seeds.
Even the Union Government itself had earlier taken the stand that what constitutes an effective system of plant variety protection (as required by TRIPS — Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights) should be determined nationally and not at international fora. The Union Government had also held that though the UPOV Convention 1991 met the needs of plant breeders, yet the traditional and subsistence farmers were not helped by it.
Thus the government in 2001 enacted the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act. It protected varieties developed within the country through public and private research and also conceived and developed by farmers and traditional communities. It provided legal rights to farmers to save, share or sell their farm seeds and encouraged plant breeders and researchers to develop new and improved varieties. It also ensured that farmers would be treated like commercial breeders and receive the same kind of protection.
This Act further provided for the establishment of a plant varieties protection authority that was not only to register the new varieties developed by breeders and farmers but also ensure fair and equitable benefit sharing and financial compensation. The Act confers legal status on the rights of farmers as breeders, conservators and cultivators of seeds. Under this law farmers who develop new strains through selection and breeding, have the same rights as any professional breeder.
Farmers will be able to save, use, re-sow, exchange, share or sell their farm produce, including seeds.
It is, indeed, perplexing why in the presence of such a useful legislation, the Union Government so soon afterwards decided to join UPOV, which in the opinion of experts nullifies the Farmers Rights Act passed last year.
The government must seriously consider the warning by Mike A Adcock, an IRP expert from Sheffield University, England, "Fear remains that pressure and, indeed, an expectancy from the UPOV along with other international demands and the pressure of the big seed industry will be placed on the Indian government to ratify the 1991 UPOV convention which had further restricted the farmers’ privileges that can be established under national law and the trend is for further restrictions under which any national legislation must be within reasonable limits and safeguarding the legitimate interests of the breeders. The term legitimate interests has been widely interpreted to mean compensation or remuneration to the breeder for the use of farm-saved seeds. Furthermore, farmers’ rights are defined only as the right to save seeds for replanting on their own holdings."
Scathing criticism of the decision to join UPOV has come from a recent round-table discussion organised in New Delhi by Gene Campaign, declaring UPOV a developed countries’ platform for granting and protecting the rights of the corporate breeders.
Supporters of UPOV had stressed three points: the Union Agriculture Ministry had found no conflict between UPOV and the Farmers Rights Act, 2001, and that the two were compatible; secondly, that it would facilitate breeders’ rights for the Indian varieties; and that joining UPOV would acquire skills and material resources for plant breeding in India.
Refuting these contentions, experts contend that UPOV itself has negated this contention by saying that farmers’ rights were mainly the business of the UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) and not of UPOV. There are 25 points of difference between the two so they can not co-exist; secondly, Indian varieties like sugarcane, wheat, spices, etc, are in demand in South-East Asian and certain African countries and not in UPOV member states like the USA and the European Union. Thus, joining UPOV is irrelevant. Also, as sparingly remarked by Dr Suman Sahay, Convener, Gene Campaign, "If the intention (of the Union Government) is to give unlimited rights to multinational corporations at the cost of livelihood of Indian farmers, let the government make a statement in Parliament to that effect. And if the scientists of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research are so inefficient that we need outside skills, then let us first close down that research body."
A pertinent poser is why is UPOV allowing India now to join its 1978 Convention when in the 1991 Convention it had decided that none after 1995 would be allowed to do so and could join only the 1991 convention, which is more inimical to farmers’ rights?
There seems to be a two-fold reason for UPOV offering this bait to India: First, if India being a very large and fast-developing country with major public and private plant breeding sectors is trapped, other Asian countries would also follow; as in the case of India, MNCs will gain access to those countries as well. Secondly, they will be persuaded not to have their own legislations in that regard like the Indian Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act, 2001, which has been lauded in those countries, too. Hitherto, only China, Japan and the Republic of Korea are among the Asian nations that had joined UPOV.
It is, therefore, necessary that such a crucial step that will have a far-reaching impact on agriculture, on which also depends industrial development to a large extent, should be taken only after being thoroughly discussed in Parliament.
That the government itself is not sure of its decision to join UPOV is also reflected in the recent statements made by Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh and the Agriculture Commissioner that a new seed policy is on the anvil.
however, they are saying nothing about what is to happen to the Union
Cabinet decision to join UPOV and how could their claims about
reducing the monopoly of the seed producing corporates under the new
policy be possible if India joins UPOV.
Rice is not just for eating
PRODUCTION of value-added products from derivatives of rice is one way to tackle the ever-increasing stocks of paddy.
A country like Japan, which contributes just 2 per cent of the total world production of paddy, produces dozens of very high value chemicals and nutraceuticals from the derivatives of paddy, a concept that is almost non-existent in India, the second largest producer of paddy after China, contributing about 23 per cent of the total world production of paddy.
Japan started producing and consuming rice bran oil as a cooking oil 50 years ago, and it is popularly known as "heart oil" over there because of its cholesterol-balancing properties. It has acquired the status of health food with Americans and is being sold as a nutraceutical at a very high premium in US markets. Unfortunately in India the potential of rice bran oil as cooking oil still remains largely untapped.
Besides refined rice bran oil a number of other valuable products such as oryzanol, tocotrienols, vitamin E, lecithin, ferulic acid, phytic acid, inositol, triacontanol, etc., can be produced from the residues generated during refining of rice bran oil and other derivatives of rice. These products can fetch prices ranging between Rs 5000 and 6000 per kg in the international market.
It is only the production of these value-added products that can improve realisation to paddy growers by Rs 2001 to 3001 per quintal without a corresponding increase in the cost of production of rice. Industry has to come forward to produce these value-added products and the government has to provide proper policy support to encourage their production.
—To save the crop from frost damage, apply irrigation to raya and gobhi sarson.
—Spray the crop with 250 g Blitox or Indofil M 45 in 100 litres of water per acre for the control of alternaria blight/ downy mildew/ white rust. Start sprays when the crop is 75 days old. Repeat spray at 15 days interval.
—For avoiding aphid attack and leaf minor in raya, spray 250-400 ml of Metasystox 25 EC or Rogor 30 EC or Ekalux 25 EC/ Anthio 25 EC/ Malathion 50 EC or 375-600 ml Dursban/ Coroban 20 EC or 100 ml of Dimecron 85 SL in 80-1251itres of water per acre. The crop meant for sag should be sprayed with 350 ml of Malathion 50 EC and wait for one week after this spray to pick sag.
—Start crushing/ harvesting (mill purpose) mid-season and late maturing variety that matures towards the end of January.
—Protect the seed crop from frost by frequent irrigation. Frost injury results in low germination.
—The crop meant to be ratooned may be harvested as close to the ground as possible for better sprouting and burn the trash immediately.
—Irrigate the harvested field and plough in between the rows to control weeds.
—Stalk borer (Tarai borer) larvae in stubble/ water shoots: Collect the stumps and destroy them; avoid ratooning of such infested fields.
—The best time of planting mentha is second fortnight of January. Use two quintals of freshly dug 5-7 cm long suckers for one acre. Before planting, these suckers should be washed and dipped into 0.1 % Carbendazim 50 WP solution for 5-10 minutes. Fifty litres of solution is sufficient to dip 40 kg of suckers.
—The suckers should be laid end-to-end in furrows 45 cm apart. Apply light irrigation after planting.
—Apply 15-20 tonnes of farmyard manure before planting, besides 130 kg urea and one quintal superphosphate.
—For effective weed control, use pre-emergence application of Stomp 30 EC (Pendimethalin) @ 1 litre/ acre or isoproturon 75 WP @ 400 g/ acre or Karmax 80 WP (Diuron) @ 300 g/ acre in 200 litres of water.
—If two cuttings of oats are to be taken, one cutting may be taken during this month to meet the fodder shortage. Do not take two cuttings from oats where heavy infestation of poa grass is there.
—If lucerne has been sown, it should also be managed in such a manner as to provide fodder during the lean period.
—Berseem stem rot: The crop may rot at the soil surface due to stem rot disease. This is serious during humid/wet season. After taking a cutting of the crop, expose the soil to sun. Collect the diseased debris and destroy. Give a spray of Bavistin/ Derosal/ JK Stein @ 400 g in 200 litres of water per acre immediately after the first cutting.
—Berseem/ shaftal for seed production can be sown during the first fortnight of this month.
—Complete sowing of spring potato in the first fortnight of this month. If the seed raised from the autumn crop is to be used for spring planting, its dormancy should be broken by dipping cut tubers in a mixture of 1 per cent thiourea and one ppm gibberellic acid for an hour followed by treatment with ethylene chlorohydrin (3 per cent) in an air-tight chamber for 48-72 hours. Avoid direct contact with ethylene chlorohydrin. Air dry the treated seed pieces for 24 hours in a thin layer in shade.
—For the spring crop, the seed may be dipped in a solution of Agallol (500 g in 100 litres of water) for 5 minutes, before sowing.
—Twenty tonnes of farmyard manure along with 75 kg of N (165 kg of urea, or 300 kg of CAN), 155 kg superphosphate and 40 kg of muriate of potash per acre should be used. Drill all of superphosphate and potash and half of N at sowing and the remaining N at the time of earthing up.
—Late and early blight of potato may be checked by spraying the crop with Indofil M 45 @ 500-700 g/ acre.
—Aphid attack can be reduced by spraying 300 ml Rogor 30 EC or Metasystox 25 EC or 75 ml of Dimecron 85 SL in 100 litres of water per acre.