AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE
 

Bamboo as an option for agro-forestry
Vinod Bhatia
B
AMBOO can be a solution to several many problems that the agricultural sector faces. It is considered the fastest growing plant on earth and has the capability of not only thriving on degraded land but also growing rapidly and covering ground quickly to prevent soil run-off and produce considerable biomass in no time.

Tackling infertility in cattle
Akshey P. Sharma
I
NFERTILITY causes economic and genetic setback to the dairy industry. Basically, infertility is the failure among cattle to reproduce and, in turn, is responsible for decrease in milk yield.

Prawn rearing makes a beginning
Sushil Manav
FATEHABAD:
As part of its diversification efforts, the Haryana Government has sanctioned Rs 275 crore under its ambitious aquaculture project, to be spent in a span of five years. The aim of the project is to provide financial and technical support for aquaculture to farmers for constructing ponds in shamlat and private land.
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Bamboo as an option for agro-forestry
Vinod Bhatia

BAMBOO can be a solution to several many problems that the agricultural sector faces. It is considered the fastest growing plant on earth and has the capability of not only thriving on degraded land but also growing rapidly and covering ground quickly to prevent soil run-off and produce considerable biomass in no time.

The country suffers from deforestation to the extent of 1.5 million hectares annually because of timber and firewood needs. Bamboo presents a viable alternative to check deforestation.

Eco wonder

The aboveground parts of bamboo check pollution, the emerging shoots are eaten and the parts under ground check soil erosion. It is also referred to as bio-steel, as on weight-to-weight basis it is six times stronger than steel. Bamboo is a wonderful sink of carbon dioxide with carbon sequestration rate as high as 47 per cent, amounting to 12-17 tonne of carbon dioxide per hectare per annum. It is a miraculous oxygen factory as it generates 35 per cent more oxygen than other timber species.

Bamboo mushrooms so nicely that its bio-mass yield is 2-6 times more than other timber species. It is an ideal economic investment, which can be utilised in a variety of ways. This plant has been the greatest friend of mountain people and time has come to realise its utility for the people of the plains as well.

Bamboo is gaining attention as an alternative forest crop with multiple uses and benefits. Worldwide, approximately 87 genera and over 1,500 species of bamboo exist with roughly 100 species that have economic importance. India has 19 indigenous and three exotic genera with around 130 species found almost throughout the country, except the Kashmir valley and the dry sandy tracts of Rajasthan.

Commercial use

Species/genera with high promise have been identified to suit various agro-climatic regions of the country. In India, commercial use of bamboo has traditionally been in the pulp and paper industry. This was initiated in the 1920s on the basis of research done by the Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun. By the 1950s, bamboo represented about 75 per cent of the fibre source for the paper industry. This figure has since come down, and is at present less than a 25 per cent (around 1.4 million tonne) because of supply constraints, lack of impetus in the farm and agro-forestry sectors, and the development of alternatives.

Of late, curiosity has been generated regarding bamboo at national and international fora as raw material for a large variety of products. The Government of India has taken several initiatives, like bamboo cultivation in private lands, increasing productivity of natural bamboo forests, setting up of industrial plants for utilising it and encouraging artisan communities to take up handicrafts as livelihood generating activity.

Currently, in the organised industries, bamboo is being extensively used in the construction industry as scaffolding, composites, plywood, packaging and corrugated sheet manufacturing, as also in the mat industry and food industry.

Much of the bamboo used in these industries comes exclusively from natural forests through a well developed, if not always efficient, system of contracts, leases and departmental operations.

Bamboo coming from non-forest lands, like farms and homesteads, is used in the rural sector for house construction (walls, flooring, roofing, partitions), fencing, agricultural and fishing implements, storage, basketry, household articles and other domestic applications and for specific economic activities such as cocoon-rearing trays in sericulture and handicrafts.

Economically viable

As a woody grass, bamboo is perfectly suited to agro-forestry. It fits well in agro-forestry situations like inter-cropping, soil conservation, wind brake, riparian filter and permaculture and yields value-added products like timber, livestock forage, shoots, fibre and craft wood. Economically, its cultivation ensures IRR of more than 25 per cent, almost equal to eucalyptus, but the returns are recurrent on annual basis after five to six years, up to thirty years or more, without recurring investment on plantation.

For farmers in North India, disenchanted with poplar and eucalyptus, bamboo shoot cultivation is a viable alternative.

Export of shoots

Bamboo shoots offer the scope not only for indigenous consumption but also for export. The fact that international market for bamboo shoots is expanding gives hope that shoot production will be a sustainable alternative.

Those interested in a package of practices for bamboo or the market situation can contact the following: The Deputy Conservator of Forests, RSM Division, FRI, Dehra Dun.

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Tackling infertility in cattle
Akshey P. Sharma

A herd having 95 per cent calving rate is considered free of infertility  problem.
A herd having 95 per cent calving rate is considered free of infertility problem.

INFERTILITY causes economic and genetic setback to the dairy industry. Basically, infertility is the failure among cattle to reproduce and, in turn, is responsible for decrease in milk yield.

A cow should reproduce every 12-14 months. A herd having 95 per cent calving rate is considered infertility free. To attain good fertility or high calving rate, both male and female animals should be well managed and of sound condition. In cattle, the reasons for infertility can be divided in three categories: anoestrus, failure of conception, and abortion.

Anoestrus: An adult cow comes in estrus (a period when it shows specific signs and accepts male for mating) after every 21 days, except during pregnancy, before attaining puberty and a few days after parturition. But if apart from these periods an animal does not show signs of estrus (heat) then it can be considered as case of anoestrus.

The factors which contribute to this condition are: Low plane of nourishment, i.e., protein, carbohydrates, minerals (phosphorous, cobalt, copper, selenium and manganese) and vitamins (A and E); high worm load; seasonal anoestrus (mainly in summer); or silent estrus, in which the animal undergoes covert estrus cycle without showing the related signs. This last condition is due to deficiency of minerals and vitamins.

Apart from these, mismanagement, congenital deformities, pathological conditions like cystic ovary and hormonal imbalances also contribute to anoestrus.

Failure of conception: In this situation, the animal does not conceive in spite of an overt estrus cycle, followed by natural or artificial insemination.

The following could be the reasons:

  • Non-specific infection of uterus. It is grossly diagnosed by examining mucous discharge of uterus during estrus, which is not transparent in an infected uterus.

  • Improper timing of insemination. Unlike other animals, in cattle ovum is released after the end of estrus. If the animal is inseminated artificially in the early stage of estrus then sperms die before the release of ovum, leading to fail in conception.

  • Delayed ovulation: In spite of proper timing of insemination, i.e., the end of estrus, an animal may not conceive due to the delayed release of ovum from the ovaries.

  • The inseminating male, or straw of semen in artificial insemination, may have defective or dead sperms.

Abortions: This is the condition in which an animal delivers dead or non-viable foetus before completing the term. The reasons could be:

  • Infections like brucellosis, trichomoniasis, vibriosis, fungal mycosis or non-specific infections.

  • Poor nutrition of pregnant animal.

  • Stress in pregnant animal like long transportation or environmental stress.

Precautions

  • Good management can overcome infertility to a great extent. The following points should be kept in mind:

  • Avoid natural insemination from common or stray males, as they can transmit infections.

  • Avoid insemination from males that have a history of low conception rate.

  • Inseminate at the end stage of estrus.

  • Give de-wormers quarterly or after getting faecal sample checked for worm eggs.

  • Feed 30-60 gm of a mineral mixture daily to all mature animals, irrespective of pregnancy status.

  • Start quarterly or six-monthly de-worming. Give a mineral mixture from three months of age onward to get early and healthy reproduction.

  • Provide optimum level of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

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Prawn rearing makes a beginning
Sushil Manav

FATEHABAD: As part of its diversification efforts, the Haryana Government has sanctioned Rs 275 crore under its ambitious aquaculture project, to be spent in a span of five years. The aim of the project is to provide financial and technical support for aquaculture to farmers for constructing ponds in shamlat and private land.

The government has prepared a pilot project for rearing prawn (jheenga) in the state, for which the Central government has given a grant of Rs 49 crore.

Dr Mehtab Singh Sehrawat, Deputy Commissioner of Fatehabad, which is one of the seven districts in which the project has been launched, says at present aquaculture is being carried out at seven places in this district.

Aquaculture has been started in ponds of sweet water constructed in farmersí lands. Prawn is being developed in these ponds.

The Deputy Commissioner says women are being given priority in providing loans for these projects. According to him, earlier very few farmers were willing to adopt aquaculture owing to their conservative approach. However, seeing a few pioneersí success, more farmers are taking it up, he adds.

The Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Nitin Kumar Yadav, says the District Rural Development Authority (DRDA) has been proving loans for the construction of ponds and tubewell rooms. The DRDA also helps the farmers in setting up solar pumps. The total cost of setting up a solar pump is Rs3.25 lakh, out of which the farmer has to pay only Rs 30,500. The rest is shared by the state and the Central governments. The Fisheries Department provides free counselling on this project.

Prawn, he says, is in great demand in five-star hotels and also in foreign countries. The Fisheries Department provides a subsidy for the project.

According to Mr Yadav, farmers can sell prawn for between Rs200-280 per kg.

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