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Updated: January 28, 2010 13:17 IST

Traditional wisdom helps develop good, disease-resistant varieties

M.J. PRABU
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Big difference: Jai Prakash, Varanasi farmer, in his field. Photo: Special Arrangement
The Hindu Big difference: Jai Prakash, Varanasi farmer, in his field. Photo: Special Arrangement

Tandiya is 30 km from Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh.

Local farmers grow wheat, barley, gram, mustard, chilly, pea, brinjal during Rabi season and bajra, sorghum, paddy, tuwar, moth bean, green gram and groundnut during Kharif. It is also famous for its vegetable market.

Like several others in the village, Mr. Jai Prakash Singh also cultivates wheat, paddy, pigeon pea, mustard, and rears some cattle in his 5-acre farm.

Though outwardly he seems like any ordinary farmer, he is credited with developing several high yielding varieties of wheat, paddy, mustard and pigeon pea.

Feed back

Encouraging feed back continue to pour in from several farmers in Maharashtra, Bihar, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh, from those who use his varieties.

How did he get into developing new seeds?

“A farmer once approached my father for guidance on availability of high yielding wheat varieties.

“At that time a government released variety was growing in our fields, and my father advised me to purchase it as it showed good promise.

“I did accordingly and harvested a bumper yield. This intrigued me and I started experimenting to develop improved varieties of various crops using the selection methods,” says Mr. Jai.

He started spending more time in the field to develop unique and higher yielding varieties of wheat and paddy. Gradually, he became skilled in the selection of varieties based on various morphological characteristics and disease resistance.

Wheat varieties

Wheat varieties such as JP-33, JP-52, JP-61, JP-64, JP-81 and JPKarishma-100 mature in 95,100 and 130 days.

“The number of tillers per plant varies from 2-4 in JP 61 (un-irrigated) to 25-30 in JP 64.

The yield per hectare varies for JP 61 and JP Karishma-100 and is about 1.5 to 2 tonnes and 2. 5 to 3 tonnes for JP 64 and JP 81 varieties.

Experimental results received from the GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, proved that JP 33 and JP 52 yield well.

Paddy varieties such as JP 51, JP 71, JP 72, JP 80 and JP 115 are endowed with a good a flavour, and resistance to major diseases and pests. The maximum yield obtained from JP 72 is 2.4 to 2.5 tonnes and JP 80 is 2.5-2.6 tonnes per acre.

Fruiting in bunches

The mustard variety JP Vishwajit is aphid, white rust and shattering resistant. The fruits bear in bunches.

This variety can be sown with wheat, gram and peas as an inter crop as well. It matures in 100-110 days, bears 1,000-1,200 pods per plant, and yields 0.6 to 0.7 tonnes per acre. Pigeon pea varieties such as perennial JP 5, JP 6 mature in 190-220 days while the annual JP 7, JP 9 and ICPL 87 mature in 190-230 days. The yield varies from one to 1.5 tonnes per acre in the perennial varieties to 0.5 to one tonne in the annual ones.

The farmer also developed a variety of Bel, in which fruits bear in bunches (8-10 fruits) and contain less number of seeds, with a good taste too.

“Our innovations could help inform scientific research, if only scientists take time to invest proper resources into exploring them. But sadly, neither the scientists nor the Government respond as enthusiastically as they should, because they are often sceptical about the value of traditional knowledge,” says the farmer.

Peer pressure

Experts say that the main reason why grassroot innovations are being ignored is because peer pressure often forces scientists to focus on high-impact research with wide visibility, and even students shy away from work that does not guarantee them a successful career.

Sometimes there is simply a lack of encouragement, or even authorisation, from research heads for such work.

Being fragmented and often not noticed, the pressure from local innovators and traditional knowledge holders to influence policies is feeble.

For more details contact Mr. Jai Prakash Singh, PO Tadiya, Dhadhorpur, Jakhini, Araji line, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, mobile: 9451577834, phone: 0542-107010.


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