|Regenerative Agriculture Technologies for the Hill Farmers of Nepal: An Information Kit (IIRR, 1992, 210 p.)|
|Cropping systems and post-harvest technologies|
Hill farm families must consider several factors when assessing and selecting crop varieties - yield, resistance to disease, taste, etc. Farmer preferences for certain varieties encompass all of these factors. Although traditional varieties may sometimes yield less, they are preferred by farmers for other reasons. Other examples of traditional varieties are common throughout Nepal and their potential use in cropping systems should be recognized and evaluated. One example is presented here.
Growing potatoes together with maize is a predominant cropping pattern among eastern hill farmers. Among the many varieties introduced in the eastern hills, farmers still prefer their traditional variety of potato, (Sarkari seto). Since Sarkari means government, some people believe that the variety may have come through government sources. But, farmers have been growing this variety since their forefathers' time.
Traditional potato - A typical improved potato
WHY FARMERS PREFER SARKARI SETO OVER OTHER VARIETIES
· Tolerant to hail damage as it has erect leaves and recovery from hail is quicker than other varieties. In the eastern hills, hail occurs at least 3 years out of five during the potato-growing period.
· Resistant to wart disease and fairly tolerant to late blight.
· Compatible with maize when maize and potatoes are integrated. The shorter stolons of this variety permit easy maize cultivation practices.
· Higher market demand than other improved varieties as seed potatoes of Sarkari seto are in high demand among farmers of low altitude for winter planting.
· Tastier than other improved varieties (e.g., Kufri jyoti). Like Kufri jyoti, Sarkari seto does not produce a bad smell if kept overnight after boiling.
· Yields of 20 t/ha have been recorded; but, on an average it produces about 8 t/ha. Similarly, maize yield of 2-2.5 t/ha is harvested from the same field without applying extra farmyard manure/compost.
Planting time and method. Planted in high altitudes (1,7-2,500 masl) during December/February. After harvesting in July/August, seed potatoes can be planted in lower hills (<1,100 masl) on Khet during October/November. For planting, the soil is dug, and two handfuls of compost are put in the hole. Potatoes (cut pieces) are planted on *e top of the compost and covered with soil. Three to four weeks after planting the potato, maize is planted.
Planting time and method
Seed rate. 700 800 kg/ha (cut pieces with 2-3 eyes).
Compost. On an average, farmers apply 33 t/ha compost on potatoes and no compost is applied exclusively for maize.
Earthing up. Usually, one earthing up is carried out one month after the emergence of potatoes. Subsequent earthing up and cultural practices are carried out as and when necessary.
Irrigation. No irrigation is normally required as soil is moist at the time of planting in high altitudes and the crop gets enough moisture for growth during the monsoon. However, irrigation is needed in low altitudes for winter planting.