Multiplies nematode resistant turmeric variety in Vijaywada, Andhra Pradesh. Provides planting material and guidance to farmers across India
“I am growing turmeric exclusively for selling it as rhizomes to other farmers. It yields upto 20 tonne per acre and is resistant to nematode pest. The seed distribution of this variety is very important because it has the ability to fill the farmers’ pocket,” says Mr. Pidikiti Chandrashekar Azad, 77, farmer who endorses IISR Kozikode developed turmeric variety ‘Pragathi’. His farm is located near Vijayawada (3kms from Vijayawada), Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh. He practices a mix of chemical (25%) and organic (75%) farming.
Since 2013 Mr. Chandrashekar had supplied approximately 140 tonne Pragathi turmeric seeds along with co-farmers in his network engaged in seed multiplication. “We have supplied turmeric planting material to farmers in many Indian states. Few to name are Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana and Uttarkhand etc. I hold the license and certificate from Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), Kozhikode, Kerala to multiply and supply this disease resistant and high yielding turmeric variety. I am not taking any commission from them. I maintain the record and register names of co-farmers and their seeds supply. It is all documented,” he shares.
IISR extends all the enquiries on Pragathi turmeric to Mr. Chandrashekar. “I could connect with farmers in North-Eastern states of the India through IISR only. Farmers come to the farm and collect the seeds,” he adds. The demand of this variety is increasing day by day because it is resistant to nematode pest.
Speaking about nematode pest he says, “It is threat to the farmers! It lives in soil and infects turmeric rhizomes. Once the crop is infected then even after removing it, the tissues of infected crops remain in the soil and serve as reservoir of the fungus. Subsequently the infestation spreads like fire and ruins the crops. Hence I endorse Pragathi turmeric seed because it is resistant to nematode pest and yield is good.” Mr. Chandrashekar sells the planting material at Rs. 60/kg.
Sowing period for turmeric rhizome varies from state to state because climate and soil varies. He elaborates, “In Kerala it is sown in May end while in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka it is planted before 15thJune.” Accordingly the land is prepared.
Land preparation for turmeric is done with vermicompost and castor cake. “We calculate the contents based on the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. In case of castor cake, it is 4% nitrogen, 2% phosphorus and 1% potash. In vermicompost we have 1% nitrogen, 1% phosphorus and 1% potash. Totally we have to apply 70kg nitrogen, 30kg phosphorus and 50kg potash. We plant the rhizomes by making feros and ridges using bullocks,” he explains. The soil pH is 7. Rhizomes are sown row – row 24inches (60cms), plant – plant nearly 20cms. “Maintaining this distance in one acre rhizomes grown are 38-40 thousand.”
To have good yield of turmeric the soil needs good amount of moisture. “In red soil water must be given every 5 days and for black soil 7days. If the moisture drops in the soil the leaves would become dull and slowly lose the strength. Thereby to restore moisture the water must be given through drip,” he insists. Usually soil testing is required for turmeric cultivation to ascertain the nutrient requirement in the soil and suitable measures are to be taken as preventive measures for safeguarding the crop from pest attack. “However, Pragathi turmeric variety is resistant to pest attack,” claims Mr. Chandrashekar.
Turmeric being a short duration crop intercropping is not advisable. Harvesting begins from January end. “Post harvesting in the same soil turmeric should not be grown. A gap of one year is mandatory. Thereby in my 6 acre farm I grow turmeric in 3 acre and rest of the farm I give it on lease for a year to other farmers to grow banana, maize and black gram. In this way I keep swapping the turmeric growing area in my farm. I am only focused on growing Pragathi turmeric now,” he states.
He concludes, “I want to keep growing the turmeric for farmers as long as I am alive. The variety is result oriented but unfortunately 70% crop fails because the soil is contaminated to the core due to excessive use of chemicals. Primarily it is phosphorus toxicity in the soil. Farmers need to change their practices and nourish the soil. Once the soil contamination is under control then this wonder crop will bring a great change in the livelihood.”
Mr. Pidikiti Chandrashekar Azad is engaged in farming for past 25 years. He also had a printing press but shut it down because he wanted to help farmers in best possible way.
Mr. Pidikiti Chandrashekar Azad
#4, Magada Village, Near Rockwell International School, Kokapet, Hyderabad – 75