|AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE||Monday, April 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India|
hybrid that needs promotion
likely to hit wheat exports
hybrid that needs promotion
Inter-specific hybridisation between bajra (Pennisetum typhoides) and napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) was initiated at the Punjab Agricultural University with the objective of combining high quality and faster growth of bajra with the deep root system and multicient habit of napier grass.
Through specific hybridisation, a promising bajra-napier hybrid, PBN 233, was developed and released by the State Variety Release Committee in 1999. This hybrid produces 1500 quintal green fodder per acre in seven cuttings in a year. It yields higher than the earlier released hybrids, NB 21 and PBN 83. It regularly supplies fodder throughout the year, except during its short dormancy (December 15 to end of January).
PBN 233, unlike NB 21 and PBN 83, is photosensitive and flowers only in winter. Due to this characteristic, it remains in the vegetative stage through out the year, except in winter, when it is dormant. The continuity of its vegetative stage provides succulent, palatable and highly digestible fodder on cutting at the right stage. Further, there is relatively less decline in its quality in comparison to other bajra-napier hybrids on delay in cutting. Delays are mostly observed at the end of rainy season when the growth is fast. It is better to cut it at the right stage and make its silage than to cut it as fodder at a late stage.
Up to 70 per cent of the daily expenditure in dairy farming is on feeding the animals. This cost could considerably be reduced by growing multi-cut hybrid PBN 233, which regularly supplies fodder for 10 months in a year. The hybrid once planted supplies fodder continuously and regularly for a period of three years, thus the expenditure on ploughing and sowing is reduced by 20 times. The cost of production is almost half that of single-cut crops. The production per unit area and time is approximately double than conventional fodders. Being multi-cut, it can be harvested at the optimum stage, thus maximum nutrients without any loss can be harvested.
PBN 233 contains 20.1 per cent dry matter when harvested at the right stage. On dry-matter basis it contains 10.9 per cent crude protein, 10.2 per cent ash and 29.2 per cent crude fibre. It also contains 7.99 per cent digestible crude protein and 68.7 per cent total digestible nutrients, and has nutritive ratio of 1:7.6.
PBN 233 has become very popular in certain districts of Punjab. Due to higher production and regular supply of quality fodder for a long time, some farmers in these districts are raising it on an area of 10 acres at their farms and exclusively using this fodder. There is a big demand for root-slips or stem-cuttings of PBN 233 because this hybrid maintains its quality for a long time. It flowers in winter and enters the reproductive stage. On flowering, the fodder becomes lignified, unpalatable and less digestible.
However, farmers of certain other districts know little about this hybrid. It is time for agricultural extension agencies to popularise it among the farmers of these districts.
This inter-specific hybrid is sterile and does not produce seed. It is vegetatively propagated by root-slips and by stem-cuttings. Its introduction, distribution and propagation is difficult in the initial stage but its spread is very easy after its introduction because every farmer will have its root-slips at his own farm for the subsequent year. Vegetative propagation also helps preserve its genetic purity. There is thus no need to replace its seed.
PBN 233 is planted from mid-February to end of April. Early is better. Root-slips or stem-cuttings with 2-3 nodes are planted in furrows at a distance of 60 cm X 60 cm. A small portion of the root-slips and one node of the stem-cutting should remain exposed out of soil. Stem-cuttings should preferably be planted upright with at least one node in the soil and the other in the air. Stem-cuttings could also be planted horizontally in furrows and completely covered with soil. Approximately 11000 root-slips or stem-cuttings are sufficient for one acre.
Due to its extreme vigour, it draws heavily on nutrients. It should thus be grown in heavy soil and ensured irrigation. Twenty tonnes of farmyard manure is applied before plantation. As much as 50 kg urea is applied per acre for each cutting. Subsequently, 20 tonnes farmyard manure per acre is applied every year in standing crop in January.
The crop needs irrigation normally at an interval of seven days during summer and 10-l5 days during rainy season. The crop after cutting should be irrigated when the plants have sprouted. Irrigation immediately after cutting causes mortality of some plants.
The first cutting is ready in 50 days
and subsequent cuttings are taken approximately at an interval of 35
days, when the crop attains a height of 5 feet. If the crop gets more
than 6 feet, it becomes lignified. Some of the nutrients at that stage
pass through undigested. It is better to harvest the crop at the right
stage and make its silage. Fodder of PBN 233 like other fodder crops
should be cut close to the ground. The stubble height should not be
more than 5 cm.
likely to hit wheat exports
The Iraq-US war will have certain effect on the wheat export from India. Indian business community is worried over the fate of commodities lying at various ports in the region.
Government officials hope that the current situation will not last long and Iraq will be in need of more wheat and other food items after the war. But traders are not as optimistic as the government as they apprehend that after the war the only certain winner will be US wheat. The removal of sanctions against a post-Saddam Iraq will open the way for US companies to once again start exporting wheat and rice to this desert country.
After the war, besides the USA and UK, Australia would also emerge as a supplier of food to Iraq. As per reports Indian export houses had to hold back orders to the tune of 6,00,000 tonnes, worth over Rs600 crore, for well over 20 months as quality clearance from the Iraqi government was not forthcoming. It was only in January that the clearance for the facilities at the Kandla port came on the condition that the final clearance would came from Iraqi ports.
Because of war risk sending cargo further in Iraq is not feasible and there is no option but to pay demurrage of $4000 per day if the war is prolonged, the Iraq-bound wheat will have to be sold in nearby Yemen at discounted rates.
As per reports Iraq imported 3.6 million tonnes wheat last year while the demand for wheat in Iraq is 4 million tonnes annually.
Meanwhile, the government of India has already issued a notification inviting exporters of wheat products to lift from wheat stocks in the central pool stocks located in Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Traders are also anticipating an increase in war premium on insurance of cargo. Hike in freight rates, which will have an adverse effect on trade, the liquidity of traders will also be badly affected if payments of goods already sent to Iraq are not made in time.
The silk fibre
Silk is a valuable natural protein fibre produced by certain insects. Various insects, like lepidopterous in their larval stage and wasps in their adult stage, produce silk as secretion from their glands for making webs. The mulberry silk, the best known of all silks, is the product of Bombyx mori Linnaeus.
The silkworm, Bombyx mori Linnaeus, is monophagous and feeds exclusively on mulberry leaves. In the fourth and fifth instar, the silkworm converts the mulberry leaf protein (fibrionogen) into silk. A silkworm utilises about half the amount of protein consumed during the larval period for the production of cocoon fibre. The silken fibre is formed by the worm at an average rate of about 15 cm per minute.
Silk consists of about 75 per cent of a tough elastic protein, fibroin, and 25 per cent of a gelatinous protein, sericin. Fibroin forms the inner layer and sericin the outer gummy layer of the fibre. The silk fibre is elastic, resistant and a poor conductor of heat and electricity. It has good tensile strength, nearly as great as steel.
A single caterpillar is capable of producing 650 to 2000 m of continuous silk thread. More than 25 thousand cocoons and consumption of about a tonne of mulberry leaves is required to make 450 gm of silk.
The cocoons are soaked in warm water to soften the gum (sericin). The threads from several cocoons are wound together to form the reels of raw silk. Subsequently, the raw silk is boiled, stretched, purified, and washed to remove the gum and bring out the much-prized lustre. Finally, it is combed and untangled. It is then ready for spinning.
Mulberry silk, the "empress of
silks," is unmatched in its lustre, shine and softness. It is one
of the strongest yet lightest fibres. It is the only fibre which finds
a variety of uses in dress materials, drapery, insulation coils,
parachutes, gas mantles and surgery. — G.S. Mavi
A new method of packing fruits for a longer shelf life has been developed by scientists in the Philippines. It is called "modified atmosphere packaging (MAP)." Scientists determined the packaging films’ performance with mangos. MAP involves modification of the "atmosphere" around the food or fruits inside the packaging material. The improved atmosphere allows the control of chemical and enzymatic reactions, thus reducing the main process of ripening and subsequent deterioration. The packaging material is a special type of film in which sodium-type zeolites have been incorporated because of their capability to prolong shelf life of tropical fruits.
Oxygen and carbon dioxide in the air contribute largely to deterioration of fresh fruit. Thus, their combined levels should be carefully adjusted to effect suppression of micro-organisms, which spoil fruit. The net effect is extension of the unripe stage. Fruit stored in MAP in the test packaging film at 10`BA C, stayed fresh for 22 days. Upon removal from the package fruit took seven to 11 days to ripen at 25`B0C.
Chilli that’s not hot
Scientists at Sarpan Hybrid Seeds
Company, based at Dharwad, Karnataka, have developed a special variety
of chilli that is free from ‘capsaicin,’ the pungent principle of
the chilli. This variety looks like any other chilli available in the
market. But take a bite and instead of burning your tongue, it tastes
sweet. According to Dr N.B. Gaddagimath, R&D director of the
company, the new variety, called "Sarpan Madhu," is a rich
source of vitamin C, A, antioxidants and is an excellent antacid. It
can be used as a mild a spice and can be a substitute for paprika. It
can also work as a spice blender. — Shirish Joshi
Banyan (Ficus bengalensis) is nearly evergreen and a large tree. It belongs to the family Urticaceae. With local names like bar, but, bargat, bargad, etc, it is one of the common yet prominent trees of Asia. It is generally found occupying commanding sites in the heart of habitations or along roads. Generally a platform is raised around its base to serve as a place for wayfarers to rest and or a common meeting point.
The leaves of banyan are alternate on twigs, oblong to elliptic in shape and are nearly 4"-6" long and 2" to 3" broad. The margin is entire. The base of the leaf blade is subcordate, also round at times. Its colour is deep green and texture thickly coriacious. The upper surface of the leaf is glabrescent, while the lower side is dull green. Old leaves keep coming off nearly throughout the year and new ones appear during March/ April. Flowering follows shortly thereafter. Fruiting occurs during April and ripening by May/June.
Banyan branches generally spread horizontally. The mature ones develop hanging aerial roots, which grow downwards. On striking the ground these become new stems like the original bole. The bark is greyish white in colour, smooth and 5 mm to 12 mm thick. On getting old it exfoliates in small irregular patches.
Banyan is a fast-growing species. As such, its wood is only moderately hard. There are no growth rings. The colour of wood from a young stem is dull white. That of mature wood is grey. It weighs about 15-16 kg to a cubic foot. The texture of prop wood is harder than that of the main bole or horizontal branches. As most Indians attach a kind of aura to this species, it is generally not felled for use of its wood. The common use of banyan wood available from dead and dry trees is as firewood only. In under-water application and or wet-site usage, however, it lasts better.
Banyan is an excellent species for shade and landscaping. Its leaves also have fodder value. Elephants eat these with relish, as also goats. Cattle too may eat these, but only during periods of fodder scarcity. Rural folk make improvised plates and bowls out of its leaves for use on community feasts.
Ayurveda practitioners suggest banyan fruit for improving digestion, treating cough, dysentery, etc. Certain preparations made out of its latex, mixed with powder of dried young buds or shoots, is said to relieve burning sensation in the skin. A paste made out of these ingredients when mixed in butter makes a good face ointment.
Banyan, an indigenous species of Asia, is found growing in tropical and sub-tropical areas. Its natural habitat starts at sea level and rises up to 1200 ml. Climatically, it is happy in areas having temperatures between 0`B0 to 40`B0C. Soil-wise, it grows on a variety of formations. Deep sandy loam with a lot of moisture is, however, ideal for its growth. Interestingly, despite its preference for moisture, banyan endures short spells of drought better than many other evergreen species.
Banyan is generally found growing naturally in all kinds of conditions. It is, however, raised artificially in the precincts of religious institutions or roadside avenues for shade and landscaping. The seed being tiny, banyan seedlings are seldom seen coming up under mother trees. Instead, its seed dumped in the hollows of trees or crevices and cracks of buildings by birds through their droppings germinates better. The as it grows kills the host tree or crumbles the building structure.
The species is raised artificially in
nurseries as well. The seed, collected during May-June, is sown in
wooden boxes filled with soil mixed with farmyard manure. Year-old
seedlings raised in boxes are shifted to other nursery beds at a
spacing of 30 x 30 cm. At 18 months to two years, the saplings are
transplanted to the desired spot with a ball of earth during monsoon
into 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm pits. It may also be raised successfully by
simply burying a 2m-long cutting of a green tree in readied pits.
Wheat sale will be in full swing from mid-April to mid-May. Owing to the high capacity of mechanical harvesting, the peak period, which used to be 45-50 days, has now come down to 30-35 days.
As such, the quantum of business transacted in the markets each day has increased and the manual operation in the markets is grossly inadequate, especially if want the wheat to be processed on the very day of arrival. Consequently, farmers face a tough time with problems like unloading space, sale, weighing, payment and lifting of the purchased stocks and backlog, causing resentment, which often leads to unrest.
In spite of the increased cost of production, the MSP has been retained at last year’s level of Rs 620 plus a drought relief of Rs 10. This has upset farmers and the resentment will be more than usual during the coming season if they do not get the MSP and friendly treatment in the markets.
The procuring agencies and boards concerned will have to make efforts to the best of their ability to ensure fair prices, timely procurement, accurate weighing and prompt payment to the producer-sellers.
The lifting of the purchased stock should be on a day-to-day basis to make space for fresh arrivals. Another important point is that farmers should be treated with dignity by the market functionaries, as opposed to their usual rough and insulting behaviour.
Adequate lighting, drinking water, toilet, and canteen arrangements also have to be ensured.