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Agriculture, Nature

Two new species of ginger discovered from Nagaland

Zingiber perenense was found growing in moist areas. 

Southeast Asia is a centre of diversity for the genus; several species have been found in northeast India

Scientists from the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have discovered two new species of Zingiber, commonly referred to as ginger, from Nagaland. While Zingiber perenense has been discovered from the Peren district of Nagaland, Zingiber dimapurense was found in the Dimapur district of the State.

Details of both discoveries were published in two peer-reviewed journals earlier this year. Of the two species, Zingiber dimapurense is taller in size, with leafy shoots measuring 90-120 cm high, whereas the leafy shoots of Zingiber perenense reach up to 70 cm in height.

For Zingiber dimapurense, the lip of the flower (modified corolla) is white in colour, with dense dark- purplish red blotches. Its pollen is a creamy-white and ovato-ellipsoidal, whereas the fruit is an oblong 4.5 cm-5.5 cm long capsule. In the case of Zingiber perenense, which was discovered about 50 km from where the other species was found, the lip of the flower is white with purplish-red streaks throughout, and the pollen is ellipsoidal.

The type specimens of Zingiber perenense were collected in September 2017, when botanists were working on the ‘State flora of Nagaland’ in the Peren district. “The plant was found growing in moist shady places on the bank of a small steam in the hilly terrain forest of the Tesen village under the Peren subdivision,” the publication authored by four botanists said.

The specimen of Zingiber dimapurense was collected in October 2016 from the Hekese village forest under the Medziphema subdivision. Some rhizomes of this plant collected along with field data were planted in the Botanical Survey of India’s Eastern Regional Centre garden in Shillong, where itself they began flowering in June 2018.

Centre of diversity

According to Dilip Kumar Roy, who has contributed to both the publications, the genus Zingiber has 141 species distributed throughout Asia, Australia and the South Pacific, with its centre of diversity in Southeast Asia. “More than 20 species have been found in northeastern India. Over the past few years, more than half a dozen species have been discovered from different States of northeast India only,” Dr. Roy said.

Previous discoveries of Zingiber include Hedychium chingmeianum from the Tuensang district of Nagaland, Caulokaempferia dinabandhuensis from the Ukhrul district in Manipur in 2017, and Zingiber bipinianum from Meghalaya in 2015.

Nripemo Odyou, another scientist with the BSI, who also contributed to both the new discoveries in 2019, said that the high diversity of ginger species in northeast India reveals that the climate is conducive for the growth and diversity of the genus.

“Most species of ginger have medicinal values. More studies are required to ascertain the medicinal properties of the newly discovered species,” Dr. Odoyu said.

The rhizome of Zingiber officinale (common ginger) is used as a spice in kitchens across Asia, and also for its medicinal value. Botanists said that other wild species of Zingiber may have immense horticultural importance.

Shiv Sahay Singh

Agriculture, Environment

14% less rainfall in northeast, India record lowest pre-monsoon in 65 years

As pre-monsoon season ended on May 31, the northeast region witnessed a gross rainfall deficiency to the tune of 14 percent.

According to a recent report by skymetweather.com, India recorded only 99 mm of rainfall against the normal average of 131.5 mm for the pre-monsoon season – March, April and May.

The three-month long pre-monsoon season ended in India with gross rainfall deficiency to the tune of 25 percent. All the four regions recorded deficit rains, the report said.

While the eight northeast states witnessed isolated rains and thunderstorms during the period, the hill state of Mizoram has found a place in the large deficient category states of India.

Ideally in the pre-monsoon season, Mizoram is supposed to receive about 240 mm of rainfall. Unfortunately, the state received only 71.5 mm with a deficit rainfall of about 70 percent.

This has been the second driest pre-Monsoon season in the last 65 years, the report by skymetweather.com said. It added that the pre-monsoon rainfall in 2019 was similar to that of 2009. That year too saw similar rainfall, resulting in 25% lag in rains.

The skymetweather.com also reported that one of the most prominent similarities between 2009 and 2019 is that they have been El Niño years. Thus, rains have been reacting in a somewhat identical pattern.

However, the Skymet Weather has already predicted below-normal monsoon to the tune of 93 per of the long period average.

Agriculture

Manipur: ICAR sounds alert over invasive ‘fallarmy worm’ pest

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Imphal has sounded alert over the detection of invasive pest “fall armyworm” in the state.

The ICAR in an official statement informed that the pest, which is native to the Americas, was detected in Lamphel and Langol Research farm of council, Manipur Centre.

It further informed that Chandonpokpi village in Chandel district is now under severe threat by this pest.

In India, the pest was detected for the first time in Karnataka in 2018 and rapidly spread to other parts of the country.

By January 2019, Chattisgarh was the last state to report the pest. In May 2019 it was reported from northeastern states such as Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and was also detected in Manipur.

“Its rapid spread is due to the female moth being a strong flier capable of flying 100 km in a night and being an exotic insect, the absence of natural enemies that could keep them under check. Another factor is, its natural environment is the tropical and sub-tropical parts of America that is similar to the environmental conditions in India”, said the ICAR statement.

Stating that Manipur is a biodiversity hotspot with many rare and threatened flora, the state  is more vulnerable, ICAR appealed the farmers to take precautionary measures.

* Remove weeds around the crop field

* Manual destruction of egg masses and caterpillar

* Set up pheromone traps @ 4/ha for monitoring and 10/ha for mass trapping of adult insect

* Spray any of the insecticide

* Green Racer (Beauveria bassiana) @ 3-5ml/litre of water. After 5-7 days of application spray Green Pacer (Metarhizium anisoplae) @ 3-5 ml/ litre of wate

* Spray Dimethoate 30% EC @ 1ml/litre of wate

* Spray ATIRA/CROPDON/TEGATA/ALIKA (Thiamethoxam 12.6% + Lambda cyhalothri  9.5%ZC) @ 2.5ml/10 litres of wate

* Do not use spray mixtures or tank mixture (mixing of two or more than two different chemica insecticides).

Written by Jimmy Leivon, Imphal 

Agriculture

Meghalaya to sign MoU with Japan for Shiitake mushroom cultivation

Mushroom cultivation in Meghalaya is about to get a massive boost as the state is all set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Japanese company for cultivating of ‘Shiitake mushrooms’ in Meghalaya.

The Meghalaya government is likely to sign the said MoU with the Yats Corporation Co. Ltd, a Japanese company, on Tuesday.


“We will soon start cultivation of Shittake mushroom, which is locally known as ‘tit-tung’, in the state,” Agriculture Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh informed here on Monday.


Under the agreement, farmers from the state will be going to Japan for a three-month training on Shittake mushroom cultivation.


The minister also mentioned that the climate condition in East Khasi Hills and parts of West Khasi Hills have been found to be suitable for the cultivation of the Shittake mushroom.

Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes)The Japanese wood mushroom Lentinula edodes,commnly called as shiitake is most popular and important cultivated mushroom in Japan. It is the 2nd largest mushroom cultivated in the world after Agaricus bisporus. In 1994, its annual production was about 8,26,200 tonnes out of which 63,200 MT is produced in China alone. It is liked by the consumers because of its unique taste and flavour and presence of a chemical which reduces plasma cholesterol level. It is mainly cultivated in Japan, People’s republic of China, Taiwan, S. Korea and United State of America. It grows in nature on the wood of broad leaf trees mainly oak and chestnut. 
 
 CULTIVATION TECHNIQUE ON WOOD LOGSLentinula edodes grows in nature on the dead wood of a number of hard wood trees.LOG PREPARATIONThe Lentinula edodes mycelium is saprophytic and wood rotting. It mainly grows on dried wooden logs absorbing nutrients from the cambiun. The outer back layer protects the growing mycelium from the various mould competitors. Although it grows on any size and age of logs, but the log with 9-18 cm diameter and from 15 to 20 years old tree are most suitable. The time of failing or cutting the trees is also equally important. The most suitable period is from autumn 
(December-January) to early spring when the logs contain highest amount of carbohydrates and other organic substrates. The felled logs are left as such for 25-45 days which results in the lowering the moisture contents to 40-45%. Sometimes the logs are immediately inoculated, if the moisture content is optimum and further drying will result in excessive moisture loss.SPAWNING THE LOGSThe shiitake mycelium grows between 5 to 30C but the most optimum temperature is 20-26C. Low temperatures (14-20C) are favored during spawning logs, so that there is minimum growth of mould competitors. For spawn inoculation, small holes of 1x1cm and 1.5 to 2cm deep are made on the logs with the help of drilling machine. The holes are made at a distance of 20-30cm (long axis) and 6cm between each row. The holes between two rows, are alternate in position. Saw dust spawn is filled in the holes or wood plug spawn is inserted by cutting out similar size pieces. The saw dust spawn should be kept soft and not tightly pressed. The holes are sealed with paraffin wax. The spawning should be mostly done in aseptic condition.
 
 CROP MANAGEMENTInoculated logs are kept in open at a place where the physical conditions are most favorable for the mycelial growth. The inoculated logs are kept in a flat pile so that there is minimum light exposure. The pile should be covered with either straw, or gunny bags to prevent excessive water loss of the logs. The vegetative growth in the logs will be completed within 8-12 months depending upon the culture strain and the type of wood used.For fruit body induction it requires, temperature shock of temperature drop, high humidity and enough light. The logs for fruiting are either sprayed with cold water or immersed in a tank of cold water. If the logs are immersed in cold water, then during summer they should be kept for 24 hours in cold water (15-18C) while during winter they should be kept for 2-3 days at 10-15C.The logs are then leaned against the supports. The cropping area is kept moist to maintain high relative humidity. The temperature should be 15-20C and humidity around 80-90%. Fruit bodies are harvested by first pressing and then twisting. Mushrooms are harvested up to 3 times and after a rest for 30-40 days they again watered to get more mushrooms. It can be repeated up to 3-4 times per year and these logs will produce crop up to 4-6 years. 
Agriculture

Grain production falls as reforms, climate affect farming

By Xie Jun Source:Global Times


Farmers pick early season rice in Xincheng county, South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in June. Photo: IC

China’s grain production is decreasing, due to reasons such as government efforts to improve grain quality, natural factors and the relatively low productivity of domestic farms, experts told the Global Times on Sunday. 

The total grain yield in China this summer reached 138.72 million tons, down by 3.06 million tons or 2.2 percent compared with the previous summer, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on July 18. 

The sowing area for summer grain also decreased by 0.6 percent on a yearly basis to 26.703 hectares this year, the NBS data showed. 

A statement from the NBS on Friday said that this year’s production of early season rice stood at 28.59 million tons, down by 4.3 percent compared with last year’s early season rice production. 

Huang Jiacai, a statistician at the NBS, said that the decreasing production is a result of local governments’ efforts to promote supply-side structural reforms by decreasing the sowing area for summer grain and increasing the sowing area for peanuts and vegetables. 

Jiao Shanwei, an analyst at cngrain.com, said that the government is encouraging farmers to replace low-value agricultural products with high-value grain varieties, which might cause a drop in production of some grains. 

Weather is another important factor. According to Jiao, the drought in Northeast China caused a delay in the sowing of corn in spring this year. And the high temperatures in the summer impeded corn production, he told the Global Times on Sunday. 

“I am not optimistic about the overall grain production scale this year,” he said, while adding that the drop should be a temporary phenomenon. 

Ma Wenfeng, a senior analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultancy, told the Global Times on Sunday that in China, land is often cultivated by a lot of different farmers rather than large farms that might be able to introduce high-tech processes. This means that large-scale, standardized production is rare in domestic farming, which in turn has restricted production. 

Low prices

According to data released by the NBS on Friday, almost all major agricultural products, including wheat, corn, beans, peanuts and soybean meal, saw their prices rise in mid-August compared with early August. 

Only cotton’s price decreased slightly during the period. 

But Jiao pointed out that China’s grain price is still kept at a very low level. “Rice prices are at the lowest point in eight years, and the price of wheat is also relatively low,” he said. 

According to Ma, the government in recent years has tried to suppress the price of grain in order to control the pace of inflation, but the increase in prices of other products like pesticides and rising transportation costs makes life difficult for domestic farmers. 

“I think the government should increase the basic pension for domestic farmers, so that they can rent out their land for mass production,” Ma said. 

Jiao said that this year the government hasn’t acquired as much grain as in previous years, and food processing companies did not have enough money to fill in the purchasing gap, which is why grain prices are still low despite the drop in production.