Quality seedlings are essential for good growth and performance of vegetable crops. Hence, the practice of seedling production is emerging as a profession and commercial activity. During the past, as most of the vegetable varieties were open pollinated, farmers produced the seedlings at a relatively low cost by preparing their own nursery beds. However, due to increase in demand for seeds of hybrid varieties which cost much more than the open pollinated varieties, many progressive farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs have taken –up the production of quality seedlings using seedling trays as a commercial activity.
One of such enterprising farmers, Mr. Prakash was cultivating finger millets, paddy, marigold and vegetables on 2.5 acres of ancestral land. His crops were plagued with diseases and low yield. Then, he approached Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bangalore to find out the solution to his problems and overcome the poverty of his family.
Mr. Prakash set up a low cost protected structure using shade nets and started vegetable seedling production in portrays using sterilized coco-peat as growing media beside his house in 9’ X 30’ area with only Rs 180/- in his account on the advice of scientists of IIHR. Mr. Prakash was briefed that the shade nets would prevent virus causing pests to enter the structure, the portray reduce the root damages in seedlings; decrease excess water retention at base and the media which is light weight would promote excellent germination and growth. As expected, he got quality seedlings which were very much in demand. He slowly started to grow seedlings in the ancestral land and today the full 2 ½ acre is under quality vegetable seedling production.
Realizing the need of upscaling, he started using machineries developed and recommended by IIHR like media siever and handle operated portray dibbler. By using the handle portray dibbler, he could dibble the seeds faster in the process of seedling production.
On the basis of experience earned, Mr. Prakash had also developed his own pot mixture combination which had coco-peat, neemcake and trichorich as its principal ingredients. He opines that the mixture combination provides the better germination of seeds during the process of seedling production. Presently, Mr. Prakash is using the Microbial Consortium recently developed by the scientist of the institute.
Mr Prakash has innovated a method to protect the seedling during rains in the net house which is simple, cheap and easy to use. He has also developed an iron structure for ease and to prevent loss during transportation.
Mr. Prakash grows seedlings of tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, brinjal, capsicum, chilli, knoll-khol, ridge gourd, cucumber and other vegetable seedlings. He has increased the capacity of the nursery which today produces 40 lakh seedlings per annum. With a monthly profit of over Rs 1,00,000/- .
Mr. Prakash has emerged not only as a commercial seedling producer but also a role model for other traditional farmers He has become an effective techno-agent and not only supplies quality seedling but also technical know-how which he constantly updates with the help of IIHR scientists.
(Source :NAIP Mass Media Sub-Project on Mass Media Mobilization, DKMA with inputs from IIHR, Bangalore)