Agri Business

Kerala varsity aims to revive agri sector

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on September 11, 2018

The Kerala Agricultural University has come up with an initiative under the banner Nava Karshika Keralam to revive the State's agriculture sector and instil confidence among farmers, many of who have lost everything.

The Varsity, as a crisis management measure, has released an advisory on crop management to ensure the revival of all possible standing crops.

Towards this objective, it has formed multi -disciplinary teams of scientists to interact with farmers in the flood affected areas to assess crop and soil conditions.

P Indira Devi, Director of Research, KAU, told Business Line that the damages to the farming sector were going to affect food security, the agricultural economy and ecological safety in the coming years.

The soil quality loss due to floods is to be assessed based on tests. Though floods are believed to improve soil structure due to organic matter deposits, there are reports that floods also cause nutrient leaching (especially potash) and that there can be an imbalance of secondary and micro nutrients.

Root damage

The persistent flooding in the uplands restricts aeration in the soil, thus leading to root damage and secondary infections.

Such a situation is very prominent in a crop like nutmeg, which has been gaining acceptance among farmers as one with a promising yield.

Devi pointed out that the crop in major growing centres along the banks of the Chalakkudy river have already shown symptoms of crop damage beyond cure.

The KAU is undertaking comprehensive studies to understand the changes in the health of agricultural soil in the aftermath of the floods.

Disease threat

Another major challenge is potentially higher levels of pest and disease incidence due to high humidity and water logging.

In the rebuilding process, the university has initiated steps to apply remote sensing technology to assess crop damage.

This microwave-based technology ensures precision at 20x20 m grid level, with high-resolution images ensuring a higher level of precision.

For this, she said KAU plans to work with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, employing GIS maps from European satellite imagery.

A realistic assessment of the damage makes restructuring easier and facilitates policy decision making on a scientific basis.

Published on September 11, 2018

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