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Kerala university develops organic package for cashew

G.K. Nair

KOCHI, Aug 23

SCIENTISTS at the Kerala Agriculture University's Cashew Research Station, Madakkathara, have developed an organic package of technologies for cultivating cashew.

The group of scientists led by Dr Abdul Salam, Associate Dean, College of Agriculture of KAU at Padannakkad in Kerala's Kasargode district, have identified suitable varieties and worked out a farm management practice such as optimum spacing, season, method of planting, post-planting care, soil and water conservation, weed management, intercropping, crop protection, manuring and harvesting.

"We have developed such a technique given the ever-growing demand for organic food products in global market. Organic cashew fetches a premium price in the international market and by adopting organic package of technologies it is possible to sustain on a long-term,'' he told Business Line.

A number of improved varieties such as Anakkayam-1, Madakkathara-1 and 2, Kanaka, Dhana, Priyanka, Dhanasree, Sulabha, Amrutha, Anagha and Akshaya had been found ideal for this ecologically sound approach, he said.

He said the square or triangular system of planting could be adopted for high density planting. June-July or September-October was the best season for planting.

The grafts of elite varieties should be planted in pits of 60cm by 60 cm and they should be filled up with ripe organic manure.

The field has to be kept free of undesirable vegetation. Intercrops such as tapioca, goundnut, banana, pulses and vegetables can be raised in the first 3-4 years.

The young plants, Dr Salam said, should be protected against tea mosquito bug and stem borer using eco-friendly strategies.

Tea mosquito bug could be repelled by smoking the garden with organic residues during flushing, flowering and fruiting seasons and by resorting to spraying with pongamia oil (two per cent) during the same phases of development.

The use of biocontrol agents such as weaver ant may help in checking the tea mosquito bugs.

Besides, the use of botanical insecticides such as neem could effectively check the stem borer, he said.

Coal tar and kerosene mixed in 1:2 ratio, could be used to sway the tree trunks for up to a meter from the ground in September at an interval of 60 days twice. Mud slurry or neem oil could also be used for swabbing the trunks.

Mechanical extraction of the grubs would also prove to be rewarding, he said..

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