Category: Agriculture
BLOGGING FOR DUMMIES AND YOU

Bishal Neupane

Vice President, AgriYouthNepal

Agriculture and Forestry University, Rampur, Chitwan

Okay the title seems a little offensive, but not if you are the ‘you’. And I know you are smart. Not that you need it, however let me explain first what blog is. It’s a simple website where you publish your views, opinions or articles on a particular topic. Blogging which initially started as ‘web-log’ and later transformed into ‘we blog’, simply means writing articles online on your website. So when we see a ‘site’ becoming a ‘verb’, this certainly means it’s a really serious and popular trend. Don’t believe me? Just Google it.
Now blogging is done by many, some even earn their living off of it. There are two kinds of blogging websites; the paid ones and the free ones. The premium one is full of billing, statistics and lesser fun; so we don’t want to go there. Actual fun is always in the free ones because it’s the beginning of something new. Just remember how fun it was to ride with the training wheels and just how mundane it is to ride a normal bicycle-like a job…exactly!

Nowadays the most popular free websites are WordPress, Blogspot, Tumblr, Medium etc. So, if you have an email account; which I assume you already do, simply go to one of the above mentioned websites. You know the drill, “www.website’s name.com.” Now me being a dedicated ‘Wordpress’ user, and a satisfied one too; the following guide will be more inclined towards its interface. Well, if you are in the site click on ‘Get Started’ for a brand new account and then select a particular theme; smart people go with ‘Independent Publisher’. Later on after this you get to choose a ‘domain name’. A ‘domain name’ is used in URLs to identify particular web pages, it’s basically your site’s identity hence a lesser regrettable and more professional name is recommended. Avoid using “SelnaGomez Yourname” or “ZaynMalik Yourname”…not cool!

After a domain’s been set, pick a plan for your blog; needless to say ‘Free Plan’…obviously! Thereafter provide your email address and assign a password, finally you will be greeted with a new WordPress account. But first send a confirmation mail from your authorized email account and you are good to go.

Being a newbie, blogging can be confusing; happened to me too. Although you know how to write, doesn’t mean you’ll emerge as a heart pounding, guts wrenching kind of a writer in one go. It takes time, take your time. Write for yourself. And once you’ve got enough followers get to know them, their needs, what they want to read and finally write for them. Create your style and most importantly be consistent. Fill those blank pages, go out there and paint it red, black…make your own color. But first just get started.

“Be a victor in this scholarly battle of blogging, I hath faith upon thee.”
Oh! And lastly, you could have just skipped this whole article and searched “How to start a blog” on Youtube could have saved yourself a trouble of reading this blatantly written article which undermines its own readers.

Good Day !

Barberry|Berberis aristata – a wake-up call

In the scorching sunshine of April, the spiny shrub of barberry always attracted us. The plants were not rare as they are now. The presence of the dark black fruit on the spiny plant would make us really happy as it was a sign of ripened berries. The fruit would give sweet flavor ending with the tinge of bitterness. However the fruit would give the best taste as we would mix the fruit with the mixture of salt, pepper, curd and sugar. The taste would give us the real sense of happiness in those April months. The fruit was one of the happy memories of our childhood in one of the villages in the deciduous belt of Nepal.

The development of the road in the village induced the modernization in the lifestyle of the people and fostered the marketing of some indigenous vegetable products such as Baby Shoots (Tusa), Neuro etc. Despite that, these medicinal value of this under exploited fruit Barberry was unknown to us then and is unknown yet. Today, after 15 years of our happening childhood, the shrub is not there where it used to be and it remains endangered in my village. Luckily, I was able to witness the presence of this dear fruit after some hard work.

barberryBarberry (Berberis aristata, Chutro:Nepali) belongs to the family Berberidiaceae and the genus consists of decidouous evergreen shrubs and is found in temperate and subtropical regions of Asia, Europe and America. B.aristatais native to Himalayas of India and in Nepal. The stem,roots and fruits possess medicinal properties and are used in many Ayurveda treatments of ailments, such as urinary problems. The root bark contains berberine , which has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antioxidant properties. It can possess anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and anti-diabetic activities. It is also known to be used as laxative and dye.

It is sad that the importance of this fruit is confined to the berries we used to consume as children. The use of this fruit helps to minimize the side effects of the anti-cancer chemotherapy drug, cisplatin which would be advantageous in the developing country like ours where we are yet to develop advanced anti-cancer therapy. The use of Barberry as a medicinal shrub remains feasible in Nepal as its propagation is easier through semi hard wood cutting and requires short time period. As the climate and ecological belt is on our side, its high time we realize the importance of this shrub and preserve its existence through propagation.

Author: Sujan Poudel | Agriculture and Forestry University (AFU), Faculty of Agriculture

Climate Change impacts and adaptation: Story from my village

Agriculture has always been the art of managing uncertainties and adopting to changing scenarios especially on the small holder farms of mid hill of Nepal. Syangja, where I was born is mountainous district characterized by steep slopes, deeply dissected by rivers and streams. Farming communities comprise a high percentage of low income household solely reliant on natural resources and agriculture for livelihood.

I belong to an agrarian family where farming had been followed by many of my ancestors and is still major source of income. I have to go to my village to help my parents with cultivating and harvesting rice and other field crops. Beside field crops my district is famous for citrus, Coffee and ginger production. I am currently pursuing my graduation in Agriculture. When I started my Bachelor’s level study I became more aware about climate change issues, it became vivid that there are lots of changes that have created by climate change in an agriculture sector. When I ask my grandparents about time of cultivating rice during their childhood, they replied me that the timing of planting crop

Youth and Climate change

Mountainous landscape of Nepal.

s are shifting with onset of rainfall. Whenever I go to village and have discussion with the villagers about agriculture practices I feel different scenarios of climate change and its impacts in agriculture. Farmers begin to substitute rice crop in khet land (irrigated) with crop which are less water demanding such as finger millets and wheat. Oranges are ripening few months earlier in October in comparison with December in previous years. Mustard was successfully sown in late September but now it needs to be planted in early to mid September to produce the same yield. There is decreasing frequency but increasing intensity of rainfall during summer while delays or complete absence of winter rain. Farming in very difficult condition, often with small fragmented land holdings and no proper irrigation made farmers to be dependent on rainfall and precipitation for agriculture practices.
When I was studying my primary school at my village there were lots of villagers being engaged in farming but the scenario is quite different now. Only woman, children, aged people and few youth are left where rest left the village for seeking opportunities in cities and foreign land. This even changed the landscape of my village, where I find agriculture land being turned into barren and forest area. Its obvious that mountainous region suffers from high exposure of natural disasters such as floods and landslides, erratic rainfall patterns, prolonged drought and hailstorms.
Number of adaptations is being made by local farmers to increase productivity of crops and mitigate against the climate change impacts. Mixing cropping system is being introduced to reduce the risk of complete crop failure due to drought or untimely heavy rainfall. For ex:Maize with beans, coffee and citrus, grass and cardamom being planted at the edge of terrace field to stabilize the soil and reduce risk of soil erosion and land slips. Youth clubs, Women’s group, Community groups along with District Development Committee has been working for mitigation and adaptation of climate change impacts through awareness program, Local seed saving program, Community forest program and Women empowerment programs.
Farmers of mid hills must take the lead. They are on the front line, they made everyday observation and the lives and livelihood of their families are wholly dependent on farming. There are plenty of challenges ahead. To cope with climate change impacts a concrete plan of action is felt necessary. Women are more vulnerable for climate change impacts; plan of action should focus for mitigation and adaptation measures building their capacity to combat climate change impacts.

 

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