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Hon’ble Director General, ICAR and DDG (Hort. Sci) visit to “Arka Rakshak” tomato plot in Chikkaballapura District, Karnataka

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Dr. S. Ayyappan, Hon’ble Secretary, DARE, Government of India and Director General, ICAR, New Delhi visited tomato field (Arka Rakshak- triple disease resistant F1 hybrid) of Mr Chandrappa at Devasthanada Hosahalli Village, Chikkaballapura District, Karnataka on 16-08-2014. Dr. N.K. Krishna Kumar, Hon’ble Deputy Director General (Hort. Sci.), ICAR, New Delhi and Dr. T. Manjunath Rao, Director (Acting), IIHR, Bangalore accompanied DG during the visit.

Mr Chandrappa, who discontinued tomato cultivation permanently due to heavy incidence of bacterial wilt and other problems, was convinced to take-up Arka Rakshak during summer of 2012 and has not turned back since then (5 crops so far). The present summer crop in one acre (3500 plants) has yielded 31 t /ac so far from 12 pickings (110 days after transplanting) and the farmer is expecting to harvest further 30 t/ac from the healthy and pest free field. He cleverly planned his planting keeping in view the high summer price and so far earned a gross income of Rs. 9.75 lakhs. He highlighted the DG that the plant has good level of resistance to all three diseases viz. bacterial wilt, tomato leaf curl virus and early blight and stated that the fruits are firm, uniform in weight ( 90 g) and shape (oblong) and develops attractive deep red colour on ripening. The farmer added that due to the excellent firmness and longer shelf life (15-20 days), fruits are ideal for long distance transport and preferred in the market.

Hon’ble DDG (Hort. Sci.) explained that, tomato leaf curl virus is the most devastating disease on tomato in all the major tomato-growing areas in the world including India and Arka Rakshak is the first triple disease resistant F1 hybrid bred from a public institution. Dr. A. T. Sadashiva, Principal scientist who developed this hybrid explained to the DG that desirable traits and fruit firmness in Arka Rakshak was incorporated by selection of desirable recombinants in the segregating population during development of the female parent and improved fruit firmness was due to less number of locules (2-3) and thick pericarp (1 cm). He impressed upon the DG that more than 35 kg of F1 seeds of Arka Rakshak was distributed to 22 states in the country so far. The institute is receiving requests from Africa, Pakistan and Vietnam countries for the supply of F1 seeds.  He informed that the price is fixed low at less than the half of the market rate keeping in view the farmers affordability (Rs 300 per 10 g against Rs 600-700 fixed by the private companies).

Dr. M. Prabhakar, Principal Scientist and Head, and Dr. Shankar Hebbar Principal Scientist Division of Vegetable crops mentioned that yield potential and uniform size and firmness of fruits were accomplished also because of adoption of precision farming practices (Drip + Black polythene mulch + Fertigation + Foliar nutrition), application of vegetable special developed by IIHR and foliar spray of  micronutrients.

Hon’ble DG and DDG (Hort. Sci) congratulated the whole team of scientists involved in the development of Arka Rakshak and appreciated Mr. Chandrappa and his family members for the scientific way of raising the tomato crop in achieving high yield potential.