Arka Fermented Cocopeat – Makes an Entry into the Nursery Hub of India

The Kadiyam Mandal of East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, spread over eleven villages occupying an area of 3500 acres is often touted as the nursery hub of India owing to the presence of a large number of ornamental and fruit nurseries. The nursery entrepreneurship provides employment to over 20,000 residents from nearby villages and other places. The planting material produced in this Mandal is known all over India for their quality and variety. From the year 2011, big nursery farmers from this region started exporting nursery plants to Middle East nations, thereby making a mark in the international arena. But commensurate to the expansion of the nursery entrepreneurship, the region has been facing the loss of precious top soil, which is  a major input in the production of the nursery potting media.  Alarmed by this situation the Department of Horticulture, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh requested ICAR-IIHR to train nursery men of the region on alternative substrates for nursery production. In this regard ICAR – IIHR organized a two day training programme during September 2016 on the production and utilization  of Arka Fermented Cocopeat (AFC) for a batch of fifteen nurserymen, sponsored by the Department of Horticulture. Enthused by the training and the substrate performance, Mr. Namballa Durga Prasad, a young and  progressive entrepreneur of the Savarappu Kadiyam village started to produce AFC  and experiment with the production of various kinds of ornamental plants such as palms and flowering plants like petunias. He observed improved plant establishment as a result of better root development  in AFC compared to the commercially available cocopeat and set up a polyhouse based nursery unit producing both vegetable and flower seedlings using AFC. In a meeting jointly organized by the Sir. Arthur Cotton Nursery Farmers Association of Kadiyam and Department of Horticulture on 22nd of November 2017 at Kadiyam ,he shared his experiences with the production of AFC and its performance in a variety of plants with fellow nursery men of the region who were highly impressed by the ease of preparation of the cocopeat, its cost effectiveness and superiority over commercially available cocopeat. According Mr. Durga Prasad, plants produced on AFC besides having superior establishment, weigh nearly two-third’s  lower than plants raised on conventional potting media, thereby leading to savings on transport costs and handling expenditure. Dr.G.Selvakumar, Principal  Scientist, addressed the gathering and asked them to take up AFC production for the production of better quality plants and to conserve precious top soil of the region. With the sustained effort by the Dept. of Horticulture, Govt. of A.P. and ICAR-IIHR it is expected that AFC wold continue to make an impact in the nursery hub of India.