India ranks 1st in ladyfinger production
A business planning and development (BPD) unit for bhindi (ladyfinger) cultivation was inaugurated at the Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (IIVR) by deputy director general (horticulture), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) NK Krishna Kumar.
It is an initiative of ICAR under National Agriculture Innovation Project (NAIP), funded by World Bank, for promotion of developed technologies, development of technical/entrepreneurship skills of growers/entrepreneurs and to provide a platform for enterprising persons to develop agri-business.
IIVR director B Singh said that the objectives of the project is to develop agri-entrepreneurship and agri-business, facilitate technology commercialization, provide human resource development support for empowering entrepreneurship through training.
He said that in 12th plan (2012-2017), ICAR has allotted Rs 5 crores to IIVR for initiation of flagship programme on ladyfinger.
India ranks first in the world with 5,784.0 thousand tonnes (72% of the total world production) of ladyfinger/okra. It is also cultivated in Nigeria, Sudan, Pakistan, Ghana, Egypt, Benin, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Cameroon. Andhra Pradesh is the leading okra producing state which has production of around 1184.2 thousand tons from an area of 78.90 thousand ha, with a productivity of 15 tons/ha. It is followed by West Bengal (862.1 thousand tons from 74.00 thousand ha with 11.70 tons/ha productivity). The fruits are harvested when immature and eaten as a vegetable. The roots and stems of okra are used for cleaning the cane juice from which gur or jaggery is prepared. Ladyfinger provides an important source of vitamins, calcium, potassium and other minerals, which are often lacking in the diet of developing countries.
He said that the crop is prone to damage by various insects, fungi, nematodes and viruses, although there is wide variability in the degree of infestation. Some of the insects and pests are shoot and fruit borer, jassid, aphid, white flies and mites. It is also subjected to attack of many diseases affecting leaves, flowers and fruits. Its cultivation in India received a setback due to yellow vein mosaic virus (YVMV) and enation leaf curl virus (ELCV), spread by the vector of white fly (Bemisia tabaci). The loss in marketable yield has been estimated at 50-94%, depending up on the stage of crop growth at which the infection occurs. Lack of sources of resistance to these viruses in cultivated species has forced breeders to look into the wild species for resistance. The transfer of resistance from wild relatives has been hampered by sterility problems. Hence, continuous search for new sources of resistance and development of better varieties/hybrids with higher level of resistance should be the prime objective.
In India, a number of ICAR institutes, state agricultural universities and private seed companies are working on various aspects of genetic improvement of okra in order to develop high yielding and disease-resistant varieties. Through intensive research, over 50 improved varieties and hybrids have been released. Some of these varieties and hybrids have already made significant impact/contribution in revolutionising the production of okra in the country. Still a vast gap exists in the research efforts and the expected outcome, he said.