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Turmeric Cultivation-A Viable Alternative Crop in Monkey Menace Areas
Dr. Banarsi Lal and Dr. Vikas Tandon11/21/2019 10:11:47 PM
Farmers of hilly areas of J&K face serious threats from monkeys as they spoil their many crops and thus directly affecting their income. More pronounced damage caused by these animals in lands adjacent to forest areas, due to food and water shortage in the forests. During my visits at Painthal block of Reasi district of J&K, I observed that some farmers have kept their lands fallow because of monkeys menace. They responded that their major crops such as maize, vegetables, fruits etc. are badly spoiled by the monkeys resulting a net loss to them. I suggested some of the crops such as turmeric, ginger, marigold, lemongrass etc. which are not affected by the monkeys. All these crops have immense potential potential in the region and can be grown by the farmers at a commercial scale. Turmeric of this area is famous as it has some typical characteristics regarding to its colour, fragrance, cumin content etc. If turmeric is grown commercially by the farmers of the area, they can fetch more money. Their fallow lands can be covered by this crop. Turmeric has tremendous potential in Reasi district as the tourists across the nation visit Katra throughout the area and there are numerous hotels and restaurants.
Scientific name of turmeric is Curcuma longa belonging to Zingiberaceae family and is considered as the triploid. In Hindi it is commonly called as Haldi. It was originated from the South Asia region. Its somatic chromosome number is 63. Turmeric also said to be the golden spice is one of the most important spices across the globe. For countless centuries, many different people are using this versatile herb to treat a myriad of ailments. This crop is known for its multipurpose value such as for the medicines, colour pigment, spicy flavor etc. It is anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiproliferative, antioxidant, carminative diuretic etc. The curcumin found in it is used as a food colourant. Its annual growth rate in terms of area is 3.7% and in terms of production is 9.1%. Modern science has recognized the healing qualities of turmeric and much research is being conducted on it. Presently turmeric is being used in the treatment of the most intense ailments afflicting today such as Diabetes, Sclerosis, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Acne, Kidney Infections, Alzheimer's Disease, Arthritis, Anemia, Leprosy etc. It can also be used as the mosquito repellent, cure of scorpion stings and wound healer. It also helps to balance the reproductive system of the females and males. Presently it is one of the most important herbs in any natural medicines. Turmeric was very sacred to the Aryans due to its golden yellow colour. Even now the Hindus consider turmeric to have auspicious qualities and use it in many sacred ceremonies. During the Indian wedding ceremonies, the bride and groom paste it on their bodies.
India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of turmeric in the world and 46% of world turmeric trade is run by India. Jamaica and Peru are the main exporters of turmeric while Iran is the largest importer. In India total area under turmeric is about 1, 72,000 ha and total production is about 8, 51,000 tonnes. Turmeric occupies 6.6 per cent of total area of spices in India. In order to mitigate the increasing demand of this spice there is dire need to cultivate this crop in a scientific way. Turmeric became valuable to human beings when it was discovered that the powdered rhizome preserved the freshness and nutritive value of foods. Turmeric is used as a condiment, dye, food colourant, drug and medicine. Turmeric rhizomes have yellow colour component as curcumin (3-9%), essential oil (5-9%) and oleoresin (3-13%).Curcumin is the substance that is responsible for the biological activity of turmeric. Turmeric rhizome is 70 % carbohydrates,7% proteins,4% minerals and 4% oil. It also has vitamins and alkaloids. Curcumin is used in cosmetics, preservatives, food industries and pharmaceuticals. The artificial colouring agents have been banned and so the use of curcumin is prompted. Curcumin protects the liver from toxic compounds as it acts like an anticoagulant by inhibiting collagen and by adrenaline induced platelet aggregation. Curcumin is also used to heal the wounds. It has antifungal and antiseptic effects .It has also antiviral effects and is found effective against the HIV. Various kinds of cancer including skin, colon and prostrate can be cured by the use of curcumin. It has been proved through the research that turmeric stabilizes and protects biomolecules in the body at the molecular level which is shown in its ant-oxidant, anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic action.
Sugandham, Suvarna, Prabha, Rajendra Sonia, Narendra Haldi-1 etc. are the important varieties of turmeric. The planting material should be treated with Mancozeb (0.3%) or Ridomil (0.25%) before planting at least for 30 minutes. The planting material is stored in a cool dry place or in earthen pots plastered with mud.2-6 ploughing is done before sowing the turmeric crop.1-1.2mt wide beds are made with 15 cm height and convenient length. The ridges or furrows are used for sowing the turmeric. In the Northern region the turmeric is grown in April and May.60cm distance is kept between rows and 20 cm distance is kept between plants.Around20qt. of disease free rhizomes are used for one hectare area. Turmeric crop requires heavy manures and fertilizers. Crop requires 25-30t/ha of well decomposed FYM or compost,60 kg of Nitrogen,30 kg of Phosphorous and 90kg of potash/ha. Full dose of phosphorous and potash are applied at the time of planting. The Nitrogen is applied in two split doses after 45 and 90 days after planting. After mulching the beds should be mulched with green leaves so that the soil moisture can be maintained and weeds can be controlled. In turmeric 3-4 weedings are required to get the desired production. The crop gets ready to harvest in the second fortnight of February. The complete drying of leaves is the sign of maturity. The rhizomes are carefully dugout from the soil and after digging the soil is cleaned from the rhizomes and is kept in cool and dry place for the post-harvest. The yield of turmeric varied from 200-250qt/ha.
The crop mostly is infested with the rhizome rot disease which is caused by the fungus namely Pythium aphanidermatum. The collar region of the pseudo stem becomes soft and water soaked resulting in the decay of the rhizomes. Seed treatment with 50gms of Mancozeb in 15 liters of water for 30 minutes prior to storage and at the time of sowing controls the disease. When the crop is infested in the field then the fields should be drenched with the mixture of Mancozeb and Carbendazim @3gms/litre of water to control this disease. Turmeric fingers are removed from the mother rhizomes and mother rhizomes are kept aside as seed material. Curing of rhizomes is done by boiling of fresh rhizomes in water for 45-60 and drying in the sun. Boiling is stopped when the froth comes out and white fumes appear giving out a typical odour. The boiling influences the aroma colour of turmeric and overcooking spoils the quality .The cooked fingers are then dried in the sun by spreading them in 5-7cm thick layers on the floor. The thin layer adversely influences the colour of turmeric. It requires at least 10-15 days to be completely dry. Artificial drying with the cross-flow hot air at a temperature of 60 degree C also gives the good quality and colour to the turmeric. The yield of the dry product varies from 10-30% depending on the variety and location. If grown commercially, it can be a boon for the farmers of monkeys affected areas.
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