Cover Image
close this bookRegenerative Agriculture Technologies for the Hill Farmers of Nepal: An Information Kit (IIRR, 1992, 210 p.)
close this folderCropping systems and post-harvest technologies
View the documentRelay Planting of Winter Crops in Maize
View the documentOptimum Planting Density and Spacing for Maize
View the documentRice Technologies for Nepal Hills
View the documentFinger Millet in Nepal: An Improved Production System
View the documentIntercropping of finger millet (kodo) with crotalaria (sanai)
View the documentLentil (Sikhar) Cultivation for Grain and Fodder Froduction
View the documentSarkari Seto: A Traditional Potato Variety for the Hills
View the documentGrain Storage Management for the Hill Farmers
View the documentLong- Term Storage of Seed Potatoes Using the Diffused Light Storage Principle

Relay Planting of Winter Crops in Maize

Many farmers in the eastern hills can grow only one crop per year, mainly due to climatic limitations. Crops after the main maize crop suffer from drought or from an extended cold period reducing yields. The cold also delays harvest and the planting of the subsequent main maize crop.

Result of trials with farmers in the eastern hills have shown that various winter crops can be successfully relaycropped into maize. These crops include lentil, barley, wheat, fava bean, peas and possibly others. This system provides extra food and income for farm families, and extra fodder for their livestock at a time when fodder is normally scarce. Other benefit include

· Reduced soil erosion because soil is kept covered all winter.

· Increased manure from the livestock having more feed.

· Maize which is planted from April-May (depending upon availability of soil moisture) comes into reproductive stage during August/September.

· Minimal work (e.g., fuming soil before planting the winter crop) is required where seeds are either dibbled or broadcast. During August/September, one of the winter crops can be planted within the maize field.

· Weeds should be controlled in the maize crop to increase early growth of the relay crop.

· Slightly wider maize spacing will also enhance early growth of-the relay crop.

· Maize is harvested during September/October and other winter crops, depending on their maturity period, are harvested beginning from the end of February.


WHEN AND HOW TO PLANT WINTER CROPS WITH MAIZE

Characteristics of the crops that can be relay cropped include: early maturity, drought tolerance, and cold tolerance.

Optimum Planting Density and Spacing for Maize

Plant stand is an important yield component of maize because yield per unit area is the product of yield/plant and number of plants/unit area. To obtain maximum yield, an optimum plant population and planting arrangement are necessary. In the traditional system of maize cultivation, farmers plant maize behind the plough without using exact plant spacing. They use a high seed rate (3040 kg/ha) for security against emergence-insect-wind-hail- and drought-damage and to provide fodder for their livestock. Generally, plant stand at emergence is as high as 75,000 plants/ha. Farmers gradually thin out the plants between first and second weeding and the resultant stand at harvest is usually 30,00045,000 plants/ha. Experiments done at Lumle found that farmers' timing and practice of thinning produced about 10% lower maize yield as compared-to thinning at 30 days after planting. Therefore, maintenance of recommended plant stand is a problem in maize production in Nepal, especially in the hills.

The following recommendations are made in order to maintain proper plant stand of maize and thereby improve the production as well as to help meet the fodder needs of the farm.

· Optimum plant stand under midhill conditions is about 50,000 plants/ha (2,500 plants/ropani). This population will yield the highest grain crop under relatively fertile conditions. Planting 25 kg seed/ha at a spacing of 75 cm × 25cm will give this plant population with a small allowance for - poor emergence. Behind-the-plough planting of this amount of seed yields as high as line planting. Proper spacing can be maintained through proper thinning before competition starts. (i.e., no more than 30 days after planting). Delayed thinning increases plant competition and reduces grain yields. Maintaining 5 plants/sq m after thinning gives optimum yield.

· If fodder is a desired product from maize, field-seeding rates can be ad justed upward. High plant population will still result in high-grain yields as long as the maize plant population has been reduced to the recommended 50,000 plant/ha by no more than 3() days after planting. The thinned plants are fed as fodder.

· Plant stand/unit area varies from farm to farm, variety to variety, location to location, and according to cropping patterns. Genotypes with less leaf area/plant require more plants/unit area; shorter plants require narrower rows than taller varieties. Plant stand should be higher under high fertility conditions and slightly lower stands are to be maintained on soils with low fertility and in intercropping systems (e.g., Maize/Millet, Maize+Soybean and Maize+Potatoes).


Proper plant spacing - Behind the plough sowing followed by thinning at 30 days after sowing yields as well as 75cm × 25cm spacing.

Three additional practices will help to maintain optimum plant population and high yields.

· Under poor stand of maize, gap filling within two weeks reduces yield loss.

· Earthing-up protects plants from wind, break and root lodging.

· Under low-fertility conditions associated with high-density planting, barrenness is a problem in maize production; random detasseling of 50% tassels before pollen shedding reduces barrenness significantly and improves yield. Detasseling should be done as soon as the tassel appears in the whorl. Flag leaf should not be removed while detasseling. Young tassels are very rich in protein and are good for fodder.


Gap filling - hilling up

Rice Technologies for Nepal Hills

Rice is the most important staple food crop of Nepal. It is cultivated on 55% of the cultivated land. Of the total area under rice cultivation 20.25% is in me hills and the rest is in the Terai (77.64%) and in the mountains (2.11%). Nepals hill rice farming is divided into three distinct climatic zones: cold temperate, warm temperate and sub-tropical.

Table 1 CLIMATIC ZONES AND RICE CULTIVATION

Characteristics
Climatic Zone

Elevation (m)

Crop Duration

Rice Varieties

Water Regime

Cropping Pattern

Sub-tropical

up to 1,100

· January/February to June (first crop)
· May/June to October (second crop)

tropical

· irrigation

rice/rice/winter crop

Warm Temperate

1,1001,400

September/October (depending on varieties)

warm temperate

· monsoon rain
· natural streams for irrigation

rice/winter crop

Cold Temperate

1,400 3,000

March/ApriI to October (depending on altitude)

cold temperate

· monsoon rain crop)

rice (only one

Two distinct types of rice fields exist under each of the three climatic zones. They are:

1. Lowland Rice Field (Khet Land): Water impounded rice field.
2. Upland Rice Field (Bari Land): Sloping rice field where water cannot be impounded.


Climatic zone - Lowland - upland

RICE VARIETIES FOR NEPAL HILLS

The proper selection of appropriate rice varieties for each of the three climatic zones and agroecosystem in me hills should be emphasized. Lowland rice varieties are different from upland varieties for all three climatic zones.

Table 2 RICE VARIETIES FOR NEPAL HILLS

Land Type
Climatic Zone

Lowland

Upland

Sub-tropical

Early season crop (Jan/Feb to rune) · Ch-45 · Chaite 2, 4 and 6
· Bindeshori · Khumal-3 Normal season crop (May/June to October)
· Janaki ·Masuli Radha-9 ·Khumal-2 and 4

Chaiya-2 Local Ghaiya

Warm Temperate

· Khumal-2, 4 5 and 7 · Himal · Kanchan · Tainan-1
· Chainung 242 · Taichung 176 · Chainan-2

local varieties

Cold Temperate

Palung 2 · Chhomrong local, local varieties

local varieties

Crop management:


Seed management

1. Seed management

· Disease-free, quality seed without any varietal mixtures should be used. (Vitavax @ 1-2 gm/kg seed),

· Under-sized seeds to be eliminated,

· Seeds should be pre-soaked and sprouted for wetbed,

· Dry seed is used for dry beds.

· Seed rate: 50 kg/500 sq m. seed bed. to transplant 1 ha paddy field; (2.5 kg/25 sq m."" " 1 Ropani)

2. Seed bed management

· Needs good land preparation with pulverized soil and welldecomposed farmyard manure (FYM)

· Seed beds should he one metre wide with a 50 cm ditch in between.

3. Nursery management

· Systemic insecticides - used two times: 1. 10-12 days after germination, 2. 2 days before uprooting seedlings to kill all insect pests in the seedbed, Furadon/Forate @ 10 kg/ha. net seedbed avg.

· Irrigation is a must during the use of insecticides

· Weed the seed bed before uprooting seedlings.

· Intermitant irrigation ifs undertaken in a wetbed.

· Topdress urea - one week before uprooting seedlings(1 kg/Ropuni seed bed).

· Age of seedlings: 4 weeks old/4 month variety 4-5 leaf stage for transplanting


Seealing Growth

· Proper and timely incorporation of well decomposed FYM. @ 15-29 dokos/Ropani (25 kg/doko).

· Land preparation with good pulverization of the soil.

· Proper incorporation of balanced fertilizer (60-80 kg N., 40-60 kg P2O5, and 20-30 kg K2C ha), (3-4.5 kg N. 2-3 kg P2O5 and 1-1.5 kg K2O Ropani) and all P2O5, and K2O is applied as basal dose)

· Transplanting is done in lines.


Nutrients needed by the rice plant


Line transplanting

5. Azolla Incorporation Green Manuring:

· Spread Azolla during transplanting. Good coverage of Azolla after 1015 days of transplanting. Incorporate Azolla manually can be seen.

· Green manuring including traditional green leaf application is also promoted.

AZOLLAS A BIOFERTILIZER FOR RICE

Azolla is a water fern usually found in ponds or stagnant water. It is present in the Terai and in the mid-hills of Nepal. It can be grown as a green manure before planting rice and/or grown together with rice. Azolla is incorporated when it covers the surface. It is a fast growing fern and its biomass is approximately 20 t/hectare when it covers the surface.

A single incorporation of Azolla can give upto 30 kg N/ha. Azolla should be incorporated into the soil when it covers the surface. Incorporation can be done any time from the tillering stage to the heading stage of rice.

Source: S. L. MASKEY

6. Weed:

Weed 20-25 days after transplanting, Rogue off-type plants during weeding.

7. Topdressing of fertilisers:

1. 20-30 days after transplanting (25% N.).
2. One month before heading - panicle initiation stage (25%N.)

8. Plant protection:

· Do not use poisonous chemicals since we would have killed most of the insect pests in the seedbed stage.

· Encourage natural enemies. There are also lots of predators (ants, spiders. wasps) in the main rice field which will kill the insect pests.


Plant protection - encourage natural enemies

9. Harvesting, Threshing, Drying and Storage:

Harvesting:

1. When over 80% of the grains mature
2. If the variety is of shattering nature be sure to harvest in time.

Threshing: Manual (if the variety is easy to thresh. Pedal thresher, if difficult to thresh).

Drying:

· To 14% or lower moisture content. (When the grain cracks easily while biting).
· Don't dry too much (<10% moisture) for seed.
· Clean well before storage.

Storage:

· As far as possible, store the grain in metal bins or earthen pots to save the grain from rats and insect damage.

· Avoid the use of chemicals. Instead use biopesticides - Xanthoxyllum dust or Artemisia dust in packets of thin cloth bags inserted in the bins.

Finger Millet in Nepal: An Improved Production System


Eleusine coracana

INTRODUCTION

Finger millet (Eleusine coracana), a crop of many poor and subsistent people in the hills of Nepal, is the fourth most important crop in the country. It is uniquely adapted to this country and mostly grown under a maize/millet cropping system. Work on finger millet development has expanded recently starting with the collection of local landraces, introduction of exotic lines and their selection for response to improved management practices. Blast and cercospora diseases are the two important diseases. Four to-five recommendation zones have been established with different traits required for different zones.

VARIETIES

1. Early and cold-tolerant variety for the high hills, e.g., NE-94 and NE1703-34. Experiments showed these varieties performed poorly at 2000 meters above sea level.

2. Medium-maturity varieties to facilitate the timely planting of the following crops as well as late transplanting, e.g., GE5714 and GE5177 but only below 1500 m and in a cercospora disease-free environment.

3. Cercospora - but high-yielding varieties, e.g., GE 5174 and GE 5177 in cercospora-disease free zones such as more sunny and drier environments.

4. Select the variety with higher total biomass rather than just the grain yield, since finger millet is valued highly as a good source of fodder.

SEED BED PREPARATION: Use standard 1x3.5 m raised seed bed. Broadcast millet seed at the rate of 10 gm per meter square seed bed. Application of a small quantity of urea will produce good seedlings.

SEEDING: Direct seeding is preferable in the higher hills, particularly under dryland condition. The recommended seed rate is around 5-6 kg/ha.

TRANSPLANTING: Transplanting is the most preferred way under a maize/millet system.

1. m: Transplant finger millet only after the maize has tasseled. This minimizes the maize-millet competition.

2. m: Transplanting before tasseling is preferable. This will allow the following winter crop to grow before the soil moisture is completely exhausted.

3. m: Transplant early, preferably at knee-high stage, again to allow both maize and millet to grow. This will allow the finger millet to head and mature before the cool weather starts.

INTERCULTURE

Interculture, under a standing maize crop while transplanting, the finger millet will have the following advantages:

1. Weeds and stubbles can be removed before this operation and can be used as a green fodder. Weeding should be done at least once more before the millet starts heading.

2. Interculture facilitates top dressing with nitrogenous fertilizer if used. This helps maize as well as the relayed millet crop.

PLANT DENSITY

1. For late-maturing and high-yielding varieties, maintain 500,000 plants per hectare or 25,000 plants per ropani. Spacing about 10-20 m hill to hill.

2. For early and low-yielding varieties, double the plant population to attain a similar range of productivity.

3. Plant population should also be increased if planting is delayed.

MANURING AND FERTILIZERS

1. Composting @ 20 ton/ha in the maize field should always be encouraged. (Higher compost quantities may be used.)

2. Top dressing with a low dose of nitrogenous fertilizer (10-15 kg/ha) always helps to boost the finger millet productivity significantly. This should be recommended.

3. Presoaking seeds or seedling overnight in pregnant cattle urine is said to have some hormonal effect on increasing finger millet grain yield by about 20%.

PREPARATION OF MALT AND WEANING FOOD

FINGER MILLET

Finger millet has a unique property of having high malting quality. It is also considered as an excellent source of minerals particularly calcium (350 mg/100 g) Low cost weaning food from its malt can be prepared.

- Uniquely adapted to low-input management.

The process involved is simple:

- Responds significantly to small

1. Take finger millet and gram (2 parts finger millet and 1 part gram)

fertilizer levels.

2. Soak this mixture overnight and allow it to germinate for 48 hours and then dry.

- Excellent long-term (grain) storage qualities.

3. Toast this at a mild temperature.

- Unusually high grain calcium content.

4. Grind the mixture. Finger millet should be tempered a while before grinding.

- Tolerance to cold temperatures.

5. Sieve and separate from husk, seed coat, etc.

- High-quality fodder.

6. Finally, blend them in a ratio of 2:1 (finger millet and gram) with supplementation of 5% milk powder and vitamins (if possible).


Intercropping of finger millet (kodo) with crotalaria (sanai)

Finger millet Eleucine coracana) is a staple grain crop in the midhills of Nepal and has been widely cultivated in the uplands for centuries. After rice, finger millet is the one other grain which produces grain for human consumption and straw for cattle fodder. Finger millet is a very resistant crop which is less prone to diseases, insect pests and climatic variations.

However, it is known as a nutrient-exhausting crop, depleting almost all available nutrients from the soil. As a result the soil becomes poorer and thus requires greater amount of nutrients for the succeeding crop. The addition of extra fertilizer is not always possible as it is scarce and costly.

In order to halt the farmers' basic problem of decreasing soil fertility and production, it is essential to develop viable alternatives. Mixed cropping of crotalaria with finger millet is one of the technologies identified in the field that helps to address the problems. Crotalaria produces a large amount of biomass and fixes N. both of which are crucial to improving soil in the midhills of Nepal.

Farmers in Kaski are adopting and improving this intercropping technique because

1. The crotalaria provides much needed mulch for the succeeding vegetable crop.

2. Farmers have noticed that the soil seems more fertile and is easier to plough after cropping with crotalaria.


Kodo


Sanai

CONCEPT

Crotalaria and finger millet come up together and act as companions to each other.

The main reason for intercropping crotalaria with finger millet is to help build soil fertility through nodules that are formed on the roots, so the roots should be incorporated after millet harvest. Incorporation of crotalaria biomass is not possible since it is intermixed with finger millet and matures at a different time. The crotalaria is cut and removed while it is in the flowering stage. This will be about 60 days after seeding.

Most of the species of crotalaria are short-lived, hollow-stemmed, fast-growing and can produce about 28 T/ha of biomass. It ranks next to Sesbania in N yield and green matter production. It is capable of supplying more than 100 kg N/ha if it is planted as a sole crop.

METHOD

1. Broadcast the crotalaria seed at a seeding rate of 15 kg/ha during the time of finger millet transplanting. Transplant the finger millet at the usual rate.

2. Thin the crotalaria while weeding the finger millet if the crotalaria seems thick and is affecting the finger millet. In case of low rainfall, thinning may have to be done earlier in order to avoid competition for soil moisture.

3. Use the crotalaria for composting, mulching, etc. It can be is cut during the flowering stage, about 60 days after seeding. This is also the time when winter vegetables are cultivated in the garden and crotalaria is very good to use as mulch on the vegetables.

4. Incorporate the remaining roots of the crotalaria after finger millet is harvested.

5. Seed production is a major problem with crotalaria. Pod borers often destroy an entire seed crop. Farmers using the finger millet/crotalaria intercropping system have worked to overcome this. They planted crotalaria at many different times of the year in different locations to find a time period when seed production might not be bothered by the pod borer. Their results indicate that for production of the next season's seed, crotalaria can be planted on terrace bunds. Crotalaria planted at one arm length (18") on south facing slopes during June produces good-quality seed which will be ready for harvest in November. Twenty to twenty-five healthy plants produce about one kg of seed.


Figure

Lentil (Sikhar) Cultivation for Grain and Fodder Froduction


Lentil (sikhar) cultivation for grain and fodder production

FOCUS OF THE TECHNOLOGY

Generally, one half of the total cultivated lands (both lowland and upland) remains fallow during winter because of lack of irrigation, unavailability of suitable crops for winter, etc. But, lentil is one crop which can be grown during that time period. It helps strengthen crop intensification strategies of farmers and helps to enhance soil fertility by fixing the atmospheric nitrogen in the soil (as much as 124 kg nitrogen per hectare). In addition, the crop performs very well with the use of local compost plant materials and does riot need external input, i.e., chemical fertilizer. Thus, the crop is particularly suitable to farmers in mountain areas. Nepali farmers have a long history of growing lentil in the Terai; but lentil is a fairly new crop for the hills, especially in the eastern region.

Lentil also provides the following benefits to a farm family:

· increases harvest of grains and dry fodder through the use of winter fallow lands

· raises family income, because lentil is a high-value cash crop. (Note: in the eastern hills, the market price of lentil is Rs 20/kg).

· enhances family nutrition since lentil contains about 1.8% fat, 4.4% protein, and 50% carbohydrates.

· helps increase milk production from cows by at least 20%. (Note: as reported in the Madimulkhark, Sankhuwasava District)

· contributes to reduce the pressure on forest and pasture land due to the increase of total biomass production from farmlands.

TECHNOLOGY PROFILE

1. Agroecological zones: Lentil is grown in low and midhills (from foothills to 1,750 m). Recently, farmers have demonstrated that the crop can be grown in high-altitude area (2,200 masl) after harvesting potato.

2. Cultural practices: Variety: Sikhar Seed rate: 40 kgs/ha (or 2 kg/ropani) Sowing time: August to October depending on elevation Manuring: 10 metric tons of local compost per hectare Cropping system:

UPLANDS

LOWLANDS

Relayed with Maize

Relayed with Rice

Harvesting:

MATURITY PERIOD


Low Altitude

High Altitude

120 days

160 days

Sarkari Seto: A Traditional Potato Variety for the Hills

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.

CULTIVATION PRACTICES

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.

Grain Storage Management for the Hill Farmers


All farmers would like: Hard work .... A good crop .... Plenty to eat

WHY STORE GRAIN

Food is the source of life. Farmers need grains not only for food but also for seed, animal feed and to meet occasional cash needs.

Between 15 and 20 percent of grain production is lost as it passes through different post-harvest operations. Storage loss alone is in the range of 7-10 percent. Nationwide losses cost crores of Rs. (4050).

Grain storage losses can be effectively prevented by adopting simple, practical and low cost storage management practices.

FACTORS AFFECTING GRAIN STORAGE

1. Grain is a living thing and living seeds store better and resist deterioration. Broken grains are prone to insect attack.

2. Moisture is a dangerous enemy of stored grain. Similarly, hot temperature and high humidity are not good for proper grain storage. When cold and hot air meet in the grain storage, condensation starts causing the grain to rot and cake.

3. Pest infestation can start right in the field. Insects are prolific breeders. Within 10 weeks, the offspring of one pair of weevil can number in the thousands.


Factors affecting grain storage

GRAIN STORAGE MANAGEMENT

· Check the grain in the field before harvest to ensure that it is free of insects and diseases.

· Remove old grain and dirt from harvesting tools, sacks, dalo, etc. Clean and repair the storage structure before filling it with new grain.

· Harvest mature grains free of insects and diseases. Thresh, clean and dry the grain well (at least 3-4 days) before storing. Store only whole, mature and healthy grain.

· Unshelled maize can be dried and stored in improved cribs, suli, kunu or thangros. Shelled maize can be stored in Ghyampo, metal bins or plastic covered jute bags. Thangros and cribs should be built in areas with proper ventilation.

· Store seed grain and food grain separately.

· Sorghum and millets can also be stored in cribs. Use rat baffles in the Thangros to thwart rodents and insects.

· Malathion can be mixed with seed grain stores, but not in food grain stores.

· Do not mix or store new grain and old grain together.

· Do not keep sacks or bulk grain directly on the floor.

· Keep grain dry and cool. Storage bins should be placed so that proper ventilation can help to keep it cool.

· Improve your structure so that it keeps grain cool and dry and protects grains from rodents and moisture.

· Local herbs such as tinur, titepat, neem, bojo, baikano and other materials like wood ash can be used to help control pests.

· The storage structure and the surrounding area should be kept clean and free of rodents.

· Rat traps should be used regularly.

· Check grain regularly - weekly or fortnightly.


Grain storage management

Long- Term Storage of Seed Potatoes Using the Diffused Light Storage Principle

WHY STORE SEED POTATOES?

Seed is the main cost of potato cultivation, accounting for almost 50% of the total cost. The potato seed is one of the major sources of potato diseases as well. Unavailability of good quality seed potatoes at the right time is another problem in potato cultivation. Therefore, if a potato grower is able to store his own seed potatoes in good condition for the following season, many problems can be overcome.

HOW TO STORE SEED POTATOES?

The best method of storing seed potatoes in the hills of Nepal should not require farmers to make major changes to their present storage practices. Any changes that have to be made should be low cost and easily constructed. Diffused-Light Storage (DLS) meets the criteria for storing seed potatoes in the hill region and it can be adapted to any existing on-farm storage.

WHAT IS THE DIFFUSED LIGHT STORAGE (DLS) PRINCIPLE?

DLS is based on the use of natural indirect light and good ventilation or air flow, instead of low temperature, to control excessive sprout growth and associated storage loss.

Provided that direct sunlight can be controlled, any kind of existing potato storage facilities can be converted into DLS. It is not necessary to build a new facility. There are many design options and any design used by farmers is good as long as the DLS-principle is adopted.

WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS TO BE CONSIDERED IN THE DLS?

There are two basic elements of the DLS principle: light and ventilation.

1. Light

Light, which is the major element in DLS principle, should be indirect (no direct sunlight) but sufficient enough to be able to read in the storage place. Light checks the excessive white, thin sprout growth. Instead, it induces short, stout, coloured sprouts. Insufficient light intensity is indicated by the development of long, white sprouts which promote quick shrinkage in the tubers. Shrinkage of the tuber means energy loss. A shrivelled tuber is regarded as physiologically old and is not able to produce a good healthy plant. Therefore, potatoes must be arranged in the storage area so that each tuber receives sufficient indirect light.

2. Ventilation

Since the potato tuber is a living organism it requires sufficient air (especially oxygen) to breathe or respire. Respiration of the tubers produces heat inside the storage area. Heat speeds up the growth of sprouts which means the tuber is quickly using more energy, thus quickly becoming physiologically old. Good management of ventilation (air flow) helps to remove the heat generated by the respiration and to provide sufficient air for respiration.

SOME EXAMPLES OF LOW-COST DLS

Note: Any potato storage needs protection from rats. Use fine wire netting or any traditional method


Bamboo Basket (Perungu)

This basket, locally called PERUNGU, is traditionally used to store seed potatoes in the hills. It can be adapted to the DLS with minor adjustments, such as making layers inside (see figure). Seed potatoes in each layer should be filled up to half or two-third only, leaving the space for air and light. The perungu can be hung under the roof where sufficient indirect light and ventilation are available but should be protected from rain and wind. The size and shape of the basket can vary according to the needs of the farmers.


Wooden tray

This is another technique to store seed potatoes following the DLS principle. Normally, a tray size of 2 ft. long, 14.5 inches wide and 7 inches height has capacity to hold about 12kg (5 Dharni) of seed potatoes. (Rack size can vary according to the needs of the farmers). The trays can be stacked to save space and they are easy to move. The tray bottom should be made of slats with gaps between each slat (as shown in the figure) to provide air flow through the tray bottom. Each tray should be filled with potatoes up to 3-4 tubers height only. These seed trays can be placed inside or outside the house, wherever there is sufficient light and air flow.

Rack or Shelves inside or outside the house

Racks or shelves made of wood or bamboo can be made inside or outside the house on the Barandha to store seed potatoes. If shelves are made on the Barandha, they should be protected from rain water and wind. The potatoes should also be protected from rats with wire netting.


Rack or shelves inside or outside the house

Rustic Storage

Separate simple storage built from locally available materials can also be used to store large amounts of seed potatoes. A storage facility 6.5 ft. length, 2.5 ft. width and 7.5 ft. height with 5 shelves can hold 500 kg of seed potatoes. Shape and size can be altered according to the needs of the farmers and the amount of seed to be stored. However, there are certain points that need to be considered:

· Roof must be thatched, not made of tin as a tin roof heats the storage area.

· Roof must be wide enough to cover the full storage.

· Shelf height must be at least 1 ft. high.

· The lowest shelf should be more shall 1 ft. above the ground to prevent rain water splashing on the tubers.

· If possible, it should be built under the shade and on the north side of a tree.

· Fine wire net should be placed on the sides to protect the seed from insects, pests and thieves.


Rustic storage

Rotary Quern: An Appropriate Technology for Rural Communities

Rotary queen, known as janto in Nepali, is one of the manually-operated indigenous types of processing equipment. It is used for grinding foodgrains, especially cereals and millets into flour and splitting pulses into two halves.

TYPES OF ROTARY QUERN

Rotary querns found so far in Nepal can be classified as follows:

1. Non-adjustable rotary quern

· Portable rotary quern
· Non-portable rotary quern


Figure 1


Figure 2


Figure 3


Figure 4


Figure 5


Figure 6


Figure 7


Figure 8

2. Adjustable rotary quern non-adjustable

1. Non-Adjustable Rotary Quern

This type of rotary quern (Figs. 1 to 3) is commonly found in different parts of the Kingdom. It consists of two millstones. The upper millstone has a feeding hole at its center and a wooden handle near its periphery (Fig. 4 and 7). The lower millstone has a metallic pivot pin tightly affixed at its center (Fig. 5). It is either portable or non-portable.

The rotary quern found in the hilly areas of the far western development region of Nepal (Fig. 6) is of somewhat different design. The lower millstone is similar to the one described above (Fig. 5), but the upper millstone (Fig. 7) has a wooden rynd tightly fixed onto its undersurface (Figs. 7 and 8). The rynd, which can be seen when turned upside down, has a depression at its center (Fig. 8). It is generally portable.

2. Adjustable Rotary Quern

This non-portable type of rotary quern (Fig. '3) is more popular in Seti and Mahakali hills of the Far western Development Region of Nepal. It also consists of two millstones: the upper one is similar to the one illustrated above in Figs. 7 and 8. The lower millstone with an outlet is fixed on a stone masonry structure, similar to firewood cooking stove (Chullo), having an opening to receive wooden or stone wedges. It has a central hole tightly fitted with a wooden bush (Fig. 10). The bush is generally made of hard wood such as Sal (Shorea robusta) or Sisau (Dalbergia sissoo). A central pivot pin passing through the wooden bush and resting on three wooden or stone wedges supports the upper millstone trig. 11).

The gap or clearance between two millstones is adjusted by pulling or pushing the middle wedge. When the middle wedge is pushed inside, the upper millstone is raised and the gap between two millstones is increased and vice versa.


Figure 9


Figure 10


Figure 11

BENEFITS

The gap or opining between two millstones can be adjusted according to requirement.

The ground flour is discharged through an outlet to the receiver.

The grinding surfaces are smooth and not in contact with each other and, therefore, there is less wear and tear of stone surfaces causing less health hazard.