New technologies into Agriculture

By Our Correspondent

As Tripura Marches towards a new dawn in the agriculture sector under the apt leadership of Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, Tripurachronicle in its endeavor to trace the practical ramifications of the developments reaches to Horticulture research centre Nagicherra. In a detailed interview, Dr Rajib Ghosh, Deputy Director Horticulture Research Centre Nagicherra, Tripura puts light on the new technologies being introduced here in Tripura for the betterment of the agriculture as well as horticulture sector. Dr Ghosh highlighted some of the key points that indicate, the day is not far ahead when Tripura will achieve self-reliance in terms of vegetables and fruits. Excerpts:   

What is the goal of this Agriculture Research centre and how the journey started?

State Horticulture Research Complex started its journey in the year 1981 with an objective of acclimatization. That time, plants like Coconut, Cashew nut, banana and some spice items such as black pepper were introduced there to develop germ plasms and after evaluation finding suitable plasm for the state. Later, it switched over as per an extended annual action plan. The new action plan included a host of activities and True Potato Seed or TPS introduced here. The new inclusions proved out as a great success for the state. Traditionally farmers used to bring huge quantities of potato for plantation but after the introduction of TPS 100 grams of seeds started yielding the same harvest that 100 kgs of potatoes were supposed to give and in addition, adjacent states also placed demand after the successful project. TPS turned out a commercial crop and greatly contributed to the government exchequer. Now, since the last few years, modern agricultural techniques such as use of plasticulture, polymelging, use of drift irrigation, sprinkler irrigation etc have been introduced here. The research and development wing attempted several kinds of polymelging for fruits and vegetables and high value horticulture segments even in strawberry, yellow flesh watermelon, red flesh watermelon.

Apart from that, we recently introduced tropical apple of two varieties that include Anna and HRMN 99. Since Tripura produces diversified species of citrus, new high value varieties such as Malta and Mandarine are introduced here. Not only that, as per the memorandum of understanding with  VNR nursery Chhattisgarh high value guava variety VNR Bihi planted here in the research complex and hopefully layers and varieties suitable for Tripura reach the farmers soon. The special features of the variety of guava included larger size 350 grams to 1 kg and less seeds. The highly appreciated variety expected to fetch premium prices and facilitate farmers with longer shelf life—15 days in ambient conditions.

Some life fencing materials like Coronda had been also brought to protect the farmers land as well as the nurseries of government.

What is the process of facilitating the farmers from the research centre? How do the farmers get high yielding crops and all?

The works like capacity building and welfare of farmers carried out by the HRD wing of the Horticulture Research Centre. The Deputy Directors of the agriculture department from every district select beneficiaries and send them to the research centre. Residing in the hostel, they visit the orchards here and understand as to how new technologies are introduced in the research centre. In the Mushroom laboratory of the research centre farmers come and learn the new technologies. Once neglected, Mushroom fetched higher prices in the market of Tripura paving way for the new era in Tripura agriculture.

 

In the last few years, Tripura farmers have equipped themselves with new age agriculture and bringing new crops in practice. How do you explain that?

If you observe carefully the history of agriculture, the focus of agriculture always remained with paddy but with the advent of new technology, and digitization people tend to prove themselves with different kinds of approaches. In this age of fast-paced urbanization and industrialization, per capita land holding decreased drastically thus vertical agriculture systems like hydroponic and aerophonic. In the research centre, a portable hydroponic system was introduced and aerophonic is underway. The products grown in these ways would be organic in nature and surely fetch premium prices for the farmers.

There is a clarion call coming from Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb of Atma Nirbhar Tripura but still we are deficient in vegetables? How would we make up with that crisis?

CM rightly coined the term “Atma Nirbhar” Tripura that literally translates to self reliant Tripura. But, the point that has been raised in this question needs to be cleared first. We are not agriculture deficient but surplus. As there is no cross border restriction of import-export, Assam sends chilly, Shillong sends carrots, beat, cauliflower due to their agro-climatic conditions. Shillong has the advantage of climate that is why they can produce off season crops that we don’t have. Moreover, huge crops get spoiled due to rains in the state whereas in Shillong drizzling helps crops grow better.

What is the present stage of Climate resilient pineapple variety?

Discussions are afoot regarding the matter. Now a hormone praying technology has been developed to stagger production. The main problem that pineapple cultivators face is invariable production. Say in an orchard 40 percent flowers at once and the rest of the 60 percent give flowers later. Now, we are trying to develop a technology through which uniform production can be fetched at one time.

What are the measures being taken to compensate with the losses that farmers incur in rains?

There are contingency plans such as free seedlings are provided to the farmers when they face any loss. All the farmers more or less get this benefit.