The ICAR-Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (ICAR CTCRI), Sreekariyam, Thiruvananthapuram in collaboration with Horticulture department, Tirunelveli has organized an Entrepreneurship Development Programme on Tuber Crops with a special reference to Chinese Potato at Mukoodal.
Sirukizhangu (Solenostemon rotundifolius) is cultivated in about 500 hectares in Kadayam, Ambasamudram and Pappakudi blocks, catering to the requirements of neighboring Kerala state. Though Sirukizhangu obtains remunerative price, the cultivation is affected by lack of high yielding varieties and yield loss (5-10 percent ) by Root Knot Nematode.
Considering the need to maximize productivity of Sirukizhangu, ICAR-CTCRI is launching a development programme this year. “Though ICAR-CTCRI has developed a high-yielding variety Sree Dhara, the quality planting materials are not available to Tirunelveli farmers. Considering the need to provide quality planting materials of Sirukizhangu in sufficient quantity, we are creating a formal seed system involving local development officials and farmers" said an official.
Few progressive farmers will be designated as “Quality seed producers” who will be mentored by scientists from ICAR-CTCRI. The idea is to produce sufficient quality planting materials in short time using scientific approaches” said Dr. P. Sethuraman Sivakumar, Principal Scientist and In-charge of Entrepreneurship Development Wing of ICAR-CTCRI.
A technical team led by Dr R. Muthuraj, Principal Scientist and Seed Production Specialist explained the farmers about various technical and procedural modalities of producing quality planting materials of Sirukizhangu. Dr Muthuraj also distributed quality planting materials of Sirukizhangu to the farmers. A guidebook on agro-techniques of tuber crops including Sirukizhangu was also provided them.
Another Scientist and Social Specialist, Dr. D. Jagananthan facilitated the Scientist-Farmer interaction session where an initial plan of intervention was discussed and finalized. Smt. S. Subavasugi, Assistant Director (Horticulture), Pappakudi stressed on the need to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to improve the livelihood of the Sirukizhangu farmers and also assured necessary support in this regard. Dr Archana Mukherjee, Director, ICAR-CTCRI interacted with farmers through teleconferencing and assured necessary technical to them.
Apart from Sirukizhangu, various technologies developed at ICAR-CTCRI like biopesticides and alcohol from cassava, functional food products like pasta, noodles and breakfast bars from cassava along with medicinal tuber varieties of sweet potato were exhibited to farmers. About 100 farmers and farm women took part in the programme.