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Orissa Review * January - 2006

A New Food Crop for Dry Farming - Cassava

M. Nedunchezhiyan, S.K. Naskar, Nirakar Ranasingh & Abhinav Saurabh

Agriculture is the mainstay of a vast majority of people of Orissa. It provides direct and indirect employment to more than 64% of the total workforce of the state. It has divergent fertile land and suitable agro-climatic conditions. The average rainfall of Orissa is more than 1000 mm. Yet it faces frequent starvation death and malnutrition problems due to non-availability of food. The average agricultural productivity in the state remains abysmally low. The average yield of rice, the major food crop of Orissa is just 1.04 t/ha (2001). Rice was highly succumbing to vagaries of monsoon. Due to poverty, low purchasing power and lack of crop planning farmers are forced to grow rice in poor and marginal soils that cannot support the rice during adverse climatic conditions. Enhancement of crop productivity in poor and marginal soil comes as a major challenge. Crop diversification and crop selection plays crucial role in sustaining productivity of such soils. Cassava, a high-energy food crop, is able to sustain adverse weather conditions. The plant morphology of this crop is favouring its survival over the adverse environments. Cassava is propagated through stem cuttings (20 cm length), which has got sufficient carbohydrate and enables the plant to retain its vigour for a longer period even under adverse conditions like drought. Infact

the most advantageous character about this crop is that once it got established the mere scarcity of water alone would not kill the plant. Cassava is well adapted to any type of soils except ill drained, saline and alkaline soils. Cassava fresh tubers are consumed after boiling or baking. It is also consumed in processed form like chips, wafers, starch and sago. Liquid glucose dextrose and alcohol are also extracted from cassava tubers. Table 1. Short duration cassava varieties
Sl. No Variety 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. H-165 Sree Prakash Sree Jaya Sree Vijaya Vellayani Hrushwa Duration 7 months 7 months 7 months 7 months 6 months Yield (t/ha)* 25-30 30-35 26-30 25-28 25-30

* Under optimum management conditions

Central Tuber Crops Research Institute and Kerala Agricultural University have released number of short duration varieties, which are suitable for rainfed cultivation. Sree Jaya, Sree Vijaya, Sree Prakash, H-165 and Vellayani Hrushwa are some of the prominent short duration varieties suitable for Orissa climatic conditions. May-June, just before the onset of monsoon, is the suitable time of planting for

Orissa Review * January - 2006

rainfed crop. Cassava setts of 15-20 cm length with a smooth circular cut are prepared from healthy mature stems having 2-3 cm diameter. The setts are planted on 25-30 cm height mounds. In case of sloppy lands, ridge (25-30 cm height) and furrow across the slope is the best method in terms of soil and water conservation. The short duration varieties are planted at 75x75 cm spacing. The setts are planted vertically to the depth of 5 cm. If setts are found dried, immediately replaced with longer size setts. Cassava needs adequate fertilization. Incorporate 12.5 tonnes of FYM per / ha at last ploughing. Apply 75:50:75 kg of N, P2O5 and K2O for short duration varieties. Half of the quantity of nitrogen and potassium and full quantity of phosphorus is applied at the time of planting and the remaining quantity of nitrogen and potassium is applied 45-60 days after basal application. Two weeding is essential. First weeding cum earthing up is one month after planting and the second weeding cum earthing up is 1-2 months after first weeding cum earthing up. A few serious

pests and diseases affect cassava. The crop is harvested 6-7 months after planting. The crop can also be harvested staggered as per the requirements. Cassava can also be grown profitably as intercrop in coconut, arecanut and other horticultural crops. It can also be grown as intercrop in rubber plantation at early stages. The great flexibility in planting and harvesting, less investment and managerial skill requirements and high yield will strengthen its stake in dry land agriculture of Orissa.

Dr. M. Nedunchezhiyan, Scientist, Regional Centre of Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, Dumduma, Bhubaneswar-751 019 Dr. S.K. Naskar, Principal Scientist and Head, Regional Centre of Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, Dumduma, Bhubaneswar-751 019 Nirakar Ranasingh and Abhinav Saurabh, SRFs, Regional Centre of Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, Dumduma, Bhubaneswar-751 019

Hon'ble Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik inaugurating the Emergency Operation Centre at Jagatsinghpur on 18.12.2005.