The main crops the institute concentrates on are arecanut, cocoa and coconut. CPCRI has a total of 685 staff in seven locations.
The Coconut Research Station was established in 1916 and later brought under Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in 1970 as Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI). The initial mandate of the institute was on crop husbandry of coconut, arecanut, cocoa, oilpalm, cashew and spices.
The restructuring process during VII and VIII Plan resulted in the establishment of separate research institute/centres for spices, cashew and oil palm.
At present the institute has a countrywide research network of three regional stations, three research centres and 20 centres under AICRP on palms. Besides, the institute also hosts the headquarter of Indian Society of Plantation Crops. CPCRAI has its head office in Kasaragod, Kerala The main crops the institute concentrates on are areca nut, cocoa and coconut. In an online interview, Dr. Muralikrishna Halemane, Technical Information Officer, spoke to Agriculture & Industry Survey regarding the various activities of CPCRI.
The institute carries out the following activities:
· To develop appropriate production, protection and processing technologies for coconut, areca nut, and cocoa through basic and applied research
· Act as a national repository for the genetic resources of these crops
· Produce parental lines and breeders’ stock of plantation crops
· Develop improved palm-based farming systems through more effective use of natural resources to increase productivity and income from unit area
· Collect, collate and disseminate information on the above crops to all concerned
· Co-ordinate research on these crops within the country and execute the research programmes under the All India Coordinated Research Project on Palms
· Transfer technologies developed at CPCRI to the farmers through the co-operation of developmental departments/ Boards by sponsoring training programmes, workshops, demonstrations, etc.
CPCRI has a total of 685 staff in seven locations. The institute also gets technical know-how from foreign countries. It procures raw materials from the institute plantations as well as other private plantations.
Organic Farming Technologies
The various organic farming technologies used in plantation crops is the following:
· Growing Glyricidia as green manure crop and using the biomass as green manure.
· Vermicomposting of coconut palm wastes by using a local earthworm.
· Utilization of coconut wastes for oyster mushroom cultivation.
· Beijerinckia indica, Azospirillum spp., Burkholderia sp., Azoarcus sp., etc. were effective bioinoculants for better establishment of nursery seedlings.
· Studies in areca nut-cocoa cropping system revealed that it is possible for carbon sequestration to the tune of 7.16 t/ha to 14.83 t/ha annually.
The regional station at Krishnapuram, in Kerala is devoted to etiology and management of root (wilt) and other diseases, pest and nematode management of coconut. The regional station at Vittal, Karnataka, is devoted to breeding, production and protection, cropping systems and drought resistance in arecanut and cocoa. And the regional station at Minicoy, Lakshadweep, is conducting research in island eco-system and coconut and coconut based cropping systems. [hidepost]
The regional centre at Nettana, Karnataka has international coconut gene bank for South Asia and is devoted to production of quality planting materials of coconut, arecanut and cocoa and maintenance of germplasm. While the regional centres in Mohitnagar, West Bengal and Kahikuchi, Assam are devoted to agronomy aspects and cropping systems of arecanut.
Awards & Recognitions
The various awards won by your institute are the following:
· Award for Team Research in 2005-06
· INSA Young scientist Award 2005-06
· Outstanding Team Research Award 2003-04
· Best Research thesis award 2003-04
· Swami Sahajanand Saraswati Extension 2002-03
· Lal Bahadur Shastri Young Scientist Award 2003
· Best KVK Award 2002-03
· Sardar Patel Outstanding Institution Award 2002
· Jawaharlal Nehru Award for outstanding 2001
· ICAR award for team Research 1999-2000
· Punjab Rao Deshmukh Women 1998
· ICAR Young Scientist Award 1997-98
The crop production division at CPCRI aims at development of technologies to achieve sustainable productivity of mandate crops by integrated approaches and natural resource management. The project in crop production are broadly grouped under
(i) Cropping/farming systems
(ii) Nutritional and water management in plantation crops
(iii) Organic farming technologies in plantation crops.
The project on cropping/farming system aims at maximizing the productivity of coconut and arecanut gardens by raising compatible crops with integrated nutrient management and by including livestock enterprises. Cropping systems suitable for different regions including North East India and Lakshadweep Islands are being evaluated in this project. Allelopathic studies in coconut based cropping systems were also initiated.
There are seven sub-projects on nutritional and water management. Significant progress have achieved in soil and water conservation with bioengineering measures.
On organic farming, the emphasis is on recycling of plantation waste biomass with bioagents such as local Eudrilus sp. And dissemination of the technology by distribution of local earthworm species. Nutrient substitution with Glyricidia green manure and utilization of biofertilizers of nitrogen fixing bacteria and P-mobilizers as nutrient source in coconut cultivation are the other major areas of study. There is also a project on linear spectral reflectance model for identification of root(wilt) disease affected coconut palms using remote sensing and GIS.
The other activities of the institute include guiding PG students of neighborhood Universities like Mangalore, Kannur and Calicut Universities.
In terms of assistance, the government of India helps us through the institute through its five year plans.
Advising on cropping/farming systems most beneficial for Indian farmers, Dr. Halemane says, “We would advise high density multi species cropping system to the Indian farmers.” Further when asked about water management in plantation crops, he says, “We have a number of SWC’s for different land types and cropping systems.” Dr. Halemane has a doctorate degree.
Dr. Halemane expresses concern over farmers opting out of agriculture. ”It is too difficult to continue due to non availability of labour, falling prices and losses in agriculture. This is the reality of the agricultural sector in the region of West Coast of India from Konkan to Kollam. We are passing through a transient period, which is very crucial than ever before,” he avers, adding, “At present, we are part of the globalised community with cosmopolitan distribution of agricultural produce. Produces wade across all geographic and social barriers which were set earlier. But still, challenges in the local and global environment are many for the agricultural sector. We look into the West Coast region, which deals mainly with plantation crops, paddy and dairy.”
Though the buying power is increasing, even in village towns, the farms are still individually isolated and much of the grief of a farmer goes just unnoticed, laments Mr. Halemane.
“The raw product in the case of coconut, arecanut, fruits, vegetables, paddy, spices and tuber crops do not fetch expected prices. It is with sluggish environment for fruits and vegetables production in the region and the cropping has gone down considerably. There is no strong buying force as there is no regular local product supply to market. Majority comes from neighbouring places, mainly from maidan parts of the peninsular India. There is no exclusion in any of the commodities as far as this matter is concerned. Labour force is easily available in those regions and wages are almost a half than the coastal region,” he says.
He also thinks, the future generations of farmers no longer consider farming as a respectable profession. “Today a farmer does not wish his son to become a farmer, the government has not encouraged the self esteem of the rural public, especially, that of agricultural farm owners. If the trend continues, we will not be able to grow sufficient food for our growing population,” says Dr. Halemane.
He emphasises, “70% agricultural based country needs 70% or more of the labour force devoted to agriculture. This is high time to re-think on policy matters in these lines. Probably a bold step by the government with futuristic concerns without vote bank bias to sectoral development could give brighter prospects”.
Source : Agriculture & Industry Survey