Monthly Archives: October 2014
#ICT4AG Handprint Challenge

ict4ag handprint challengeInformation Communication and Technology has been a crucial need for students to enhance their skills in wide arena. ICTs has been regarded as one of the innovative and promising approach for developing agriculture sector through easy access of information.

The use of ICTs changes conventional ways of learning and enabling rapid access to ideas and experiences from a wide range of people, communities and cultures, and allows collaborating and exchanging information on a wide scale. That’s why it enables active learning through all senses.

Despite of its need due to large digital divide in developing countries like Nepal, effective implementation of ICT has become a challenging thing. The situation at agricultural university level students in Nepal reveals that the majority of the students are unaware about the use of online ecosystem for enhancing their knowledge.

To overcome the challenge and to enhance the technical know how of web 2.0 to agriculture student, with  the funding support from the South Asia Youth Environment Network (SAYEN), technical support from AgriYouthNepal, YPARD Nepal , Sustainable Nepal, and the Nepal Tunza Youth Environment Network (NTYEN)  three days training on Web 2.0 and Social media “ICT for Agriculture Handprint Challenge” is announced. 

Date:  5-7 November 2014

Time: 8 am to 5 pm

Venue: Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science, Paklihawa Campus, Nepal

Beside the training there will be blogging competition each week and best five bloggers will be awarded with their blog being featured through  different online channels.

Intended topics to be covered

  • Introduction to the participatory World Wide Web (Web 2.0) and to social media;
  • Search Magic: How to conduct advanced multilingual online searches.
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Remote collaboration: How to develop content remotely using wikis and Google Docs.
  • Online mapping: How to locate your organization and your projects on an online map
  • Online publishing (micro-blogging and blogging).
  • Professional / corporate social networking (LinkedIn and Facebook)
  • Bookmarking
  • RSS feeds
  • Email Management

Eligibility

  • Participant should bring WiFi enabled laptop
  • Participant should have active social media accounts
  • Involved in Agriculture, Veterinary, Forestry and Rural development

Note: Participant should cover all the expenses for travel and accommodation.

To apply for the training please go through this registration form/survey and confirm your participation before  2 November 2014

Call +977-9849129261, +977-9846222326 for details.

Citrus Decline- A major threat
Sunrise in Mandarin Orchard

Sunrise through my Mandarin Orchard in Syangja

I am spending couple of days of my vacation in my village where I was borned and raised. The weather is so nice here with cool air flowing across our mandarin orchard and yellowish green landscape of fields which signifies the paddy is ready for harvesting. We have got mandarin orchard with more than 200 trees. I remind the day when I was in grade four or five, everyday after returning back home from school I used to climb to one of my favorite tree without changing my school dress until I satisfy eating oranges. With branches overload with golden fruits, we used to have a good harvest. Now the branches looks naked with less leaves and fruits. Limbs of secondary and tertiary branches are dying back from the top with sparse fruits and leaves. On the whole the tree looks like sickly appearance. The twigs and branches are dying and we are having a poor harvest. I feel like writing seeing this problem of my orchard.

Citrus_Decline_Nepal

Die back of twigs and branches in mandarin orchard

I spend couple of hours in orchard searching the reason behind this decline. I overview how we used to manage our orchard in past years, patterns of inter-cropping and incidence of pests and diseases.

Orchard management

Talking about orchard management, we have trees in the rain-fed field in sloppy area with spacing of 5m (P-P). Mandarians are ready to harvest in the months of November to Mid December. In spring season we plough the land and supply manures at the rate of 70-80kg per plant. We don’t used to irrigate the orchard before but last year we built a tank for harvesting the rain water which is now used to irrigate the orchard for 2 times, one after manuring and one before starting of rainy season. We cultivate the crops like coffee, bananas, maize, millet and vegetables as intercrops in the orchard.
According to statistical information of citrus 2011/2012 Syangja district is top most district for mandarin cultivation with annual production of 11571.3 MT and productivity of 12.9 Mt/ha. Mandarin grow well in 1000-1400masl with annual temperature of 19oc in most of the districts of hilly regions of Nepal.
Citrus decline is burning problem of citrus growing orchard. It is widespread all over the world. Ciitrus decline is not a disease but a symptomic expressionof several disorders in the plant. It is often called as “die-back” which signifies the continuous dying of twigs and branches. There is not a single factor for citrus decline, it might be the result of soil factor, nutritional factor, rootstock factor, orchard management factor and disease/pest/virus/nematode factor.

Citrus Tristeza Virus

Poor_Orchad_Management

Dead branches used as stakes for climbers like cucurbits and beans.

It is the virus responsible for declining the citrus production all over the world. Farmers from Brazil and south American countries gave it rhe name “ Tristeza” meaning sadness in Portuguese and Spanish, referring to the devastation produced by the disease in the 1930’s. It is mostly transmitted by brown citrus aphid.
The reason behind the increasing devastation of citrus decline is due to lack of technical known how about orchard management. I found that my grandparents using the dead branches of mandarin for as staking for climbers like cucurbits and beans. Inside those branches the virus still remain active and helps in spreading the deadly virus in the orchard. I found another reason for citrus decline as increasing incidence of pest sssspecially Citrus bug and aphids. Those insects not only decline the fruit productivity but also acts as vector for spreading disease and virus.

Citrus Greening and its symptoms

Citrus greening is caused due to gram negative bacteria Liberobacter asiaricum which is another reason for citrus decline in Nepal. The most characteristic foliage symptoms of citrus greening are the blotchy mottling of leaves and leaf yellowing that may appear on a single shoot or branch. The disease may also cause small, narrow leaves and short stems that give plant growth a bunched appearance. Other symptoms include twig dieback, poor flowering, and stunted growth. Fruit from diseased trees is small and often misshapen. Typically, some green color remains even on ripe fruit. Affected fruit tastes bitter, medicinal, and sour. Seeds usually abort, and fruit set (formation) is poor.
Symptoms vary according to time of infection, stage of the disease, tree species, and tree maturity. Citrus greening can initially be difficult to diagnose because it remains latent for some time before expressing itself.

How to Control Citrus Decline

Quick decline caused by the Citrus quick decline virus can be effectively controlled by the use of CTV tolerant rootstocks such as Poncirus trifoliata, sweet orange, Troyer citrange, Cleopatra mandarin or rough lemon C. aurantifolia, Swingle citrumelo. The use of protective CTV strains for cross protection is currently the most effective control strategy. It is hard to control the disease so major strategy for the management of the disease is to control the aphid vector of the disease. The insect has the major attack at the time of new flush comes so it will be judicious to spray the insecticide during this period to control the insect. The dead branches and twigs should not be used for staking purpose and should be brunt or use as firewood, The premature drops of fruits should be collected and buried properly. While selecting the planting materials it should not be bought from lowland nurseries and should be brought from the regions of similar height of your orchard where there is no problem of citrus decline, Good orchard management is a best way to get rid of citrus decline.Citrus_Decline_Nepal

Green to the Greener Revolution

The story of first green revolution began when Mexican Scientist Dr. Norman E. Borlaug developed wheat variety which was short in height and with long panicle. The discovery of wheat ideotype with dwarf size, fertilizer responsive and high yielding solve the panacea of hunger that the world was facing during 1960’s.

Similarly conventional rice varieties were long and leggy. If you give fertilizer, they grew tall, fall over and yield less. The discovery if IR8 varieties in 1962 by International Rice Research Insitute (IRRI) transform the productivity. Similarly in case of Maize, the discovery of high yielding cross pollinated varieties save the world from the threat of extinction of human beings because of hunger.

By 1970’s the term “Revolution” was well deserved when the modern varieties seed reach to many farmers and replace their traditional farming practices. By 1990’s almost 75% of Asian rice area were sown with new varieties.Famil_Farming_in_Mountain_Landscape

Famil_Farming_in_Mountain_Landscape

Thanks to the revolutionary decade of green revolution which bought a new face of food production with new seed and with good harvest. But ironically it couldn’t prove itself as a successful strategy for ending hunger that the world will soon be facing. The technology of green revolution reached t handful people who were economically and socially strong. It couldn’t go to the fields of small holders who were economically poor and socially desperate. It failed to alter the tightly concentrated distribution of economic power and access to land and resources.

Famil_Farming_in_Mountain_Landscape

Basically Green Revolution give the way to biorevolution based on genetic modification. Chemical agriculture is destroying the future of food production. We got soil erosion, soil salinization, soil compaction, water lodging, loss of biodiversity and that is occurring in alarming rate. The chemical cum biotechnology companies like Monsanto thought behind boosting crop yield to feed hungry planet is skeptical.

The United Nations predict that the world population will be 9 billion by 2050. To meet the food demand of 9 billion stomach, the agricultural productivity should be increased by 50%.

“World hunger is caused by destroying people capacity to feed themselves” –Vandana Shiva, Environmental Activist

Biodiversity Rich Farming Practice

Future food security is threatened by genetic erosion of diversity within and between population f the same species over time. In many societies uncultivated food, or food collected from the wild, finds its way into people diets and contributes significantly to the overall food security and micro-nutrient intake (preventing ‘hidden hunger’). In Nepal, the harvest from forests or the wild is a major source of medicine, food an nutrition for ethnic communities like Chepang, Rai, Sherpa and Gurung. The Rai and Sherpa community use 47 wild species for household consumption, 38 for fodder, 19 for medicine, 5 for religious and ceremonial purpose (LIBIRD, 2012). Jumli Marshi rice variety of Nepal is very tolerant to chilling temperature and adapted to highest elevation (3000m asl). The population is very susceptible to leaf and neck blast because of narrow genetic base as all landrace of Jumla originated from a single origin.

The intensification practice of monoculture threatens the source of genetic diversity and thus threatens both local and global food security.

“Most of the food need of poor part of humanity are met by having Biodiversity rich farming, Biodiversity will feed the world not chemical, ecological cycle will feed the world not genetic engineering” –Vandana Shiva,  Environmental Activist

Seeking Greener Revolution

The first green revolution was not green enough. The second revolution should seek miracle on different approach. Farmer will nnot adapt single miracle variety, it should cover the need of people whose farm is dry, flooded, salty and so on. In contrast of increasing the productivity, it should cover the nutritional need of people and solve the malnutrition. The second green revolution should be greener enough to reach to small holder poorest farmers in contrast first had big impact on richest field. The second revolution should meet the food and nutrition demand conserving genetic diversity, reducing petrochemical use, addressing climate change, improving people livelihood. Moreover it should be sexy enough to attract youth towards farming as respectful profession.

The United Nation’s  general assembly declaration of 2014 as International Year of Family Farming draw the world’s attention to the importance of smallholder farmers towards reducing poverty and hunger conserving biodiversity and providing the household and communities with nutritional rich food and livelihood. The future of world food security hold in hands of small holder farmers who make up their living on different landscapes.

World Food Day and Family Farming

World Food Day 2014 - FAO Banner

The World Food Day 2014 Theme is Family Farming “Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth”. The theme has been chosen to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers. It focuses world attention on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.

Image Credit : FAO 

Suggestive Reading

“The Next Green Revolution – National Geographic”

“The new green revolution– A bigger rice bowl- The Economist”

“On Farm Management of agriculture biodiversity in Nepal- Libird

“World Food Day 2014 – FAO”