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Vol. 9 No.1&2 February-April 2001 


DRDO is engaged in the development of suitable agro-technologies in high altitude areas of the country to meet the requirement of perishable commodities (vegetables, fruit, milk and meat) of the Armed forces locally and improve economic condition of local farmers. Some important agro-technologies and products developed are:

Improved Varieties & Hybrids of Vegetables

Several crop varieties/hybrids, mainly of vegetables, have been developed and are being grown on commercial scale in the Himalayan states. These include:

Crop Variety Characteristics
Tomato HT -6 Medium size fruit
  HT -8 Large size fruit
  Sindhu-1 Early
  Sindhu-2 Medium
Brinjal ARU-1 Long fruited
  ARU-2C Fruits in cluster
Bittergourd BWM-1 Medium sized fruit
Capsicum HC-201 Ridged fruit ,  
  HC-202 Smooth fruit  
Chilli DARL-Sel Long fruit  
Chilli* DRL Hottest chilli
Cabbage ARU-Glory Early small head
Veg. mustard ARU-Black Broad violet leaves
Potato FRL-I TPS open variety
  FRL-II TPS hybrid
Garlic DARL-51 Bold cloves
Maize Auli composite Suitable for high altitudes

* DRDO has identified a chilli variety from the north-east of the country that is the very pungent.

Hybrids (F1 )

Crop Hybrids(F1) Characteristics
Capsicum DARL -202 Resistant to Fusarium wilt
Tomato DARL-303 Resistant to Fusarium wilt
  DARL-304 Resistant to late blight
Cucumber DARL -101 Tolerant to cucumber mosaic
  DARL-104 Tolerant to downy mildew


Technology for Protected Cultivation of Vegetables in High Altitudes

Since cropping period is small in high altitude areas, it is difficult to raise vegetables requiring transplanting, such as cauliflower, cabbage, knol-khol, tomato, onion etc. DRDO has standardised trench cultivation method for raising early nursery of vegetables. Seedlings are raised in polythene covered trenches of appropriate size, generally 15' x 5' x 3' during April and transplanted as soon as cropping season starts. This technique has been successfully tried for raising potato seedlings using true potato seed. By this method, the nurseries of improved varieties of above vegetables are raised in large quantity (several lakh) and made available to the growers every year. Certain progressive farmers and local horticulture department have already adopted this technology.

Capsicum crop in solar green houseIn Ladakh, during the long frozen winter months, not a single blade of grass grows in the open. Ladakhis used to laugh at the idea of growing vegetables during ,winter, but they themselves are now cultivating in winter season using the protected cultivation technology developed by DRDO. As a result of extensive research and development efforts of DRDO, locally grown greens (leafy vegetables) are now seen in Leh market during severe winter. Green vegetables, namely, coriander, mint, vegetable mustard, lettuce, celery, parsley, fenugreek, kale, palak, etc. Capsicum crop in solar green house are grown by adopting polyhouse and trench cultivation techniques, using polyethylene and local material affordable by tribal farmers. A polyhouse of 12 m x 4m x 2 m size is made using poplar and willow wood. It is covered with ultraviolet stabilized white polyethylene film of 200 micron thickness or other films like rigidex. Crop inside polyhouse is covered over night with 150 gauge black film. Trenches of 15' x 5' x 3' size are used for raising winter leafy vegetables. These trenches are kept covered with ultraviolet stabilized polyethylene. During nights another covering with black polyethylene is given. Trench cultivation harnesses soil and sun temperature to induce growth in certain leafy vegetables. The trenches and the polyhouse used for raising leafy vegetables during winter and vegetable nursery during spring are also used for raising cucurbits (cucumber, bottlegourd, longmelon, summer squash etc) during summer (June to September). This technology is becoming popular among farmers.

Mushroom Cultivation

Oyster mushroomMushroom, a rich source of vegetable protein, can be cultivated under captive conditions irrespective of agroecological and topo-sequential heterogeneities. Suitable technologies have been developed for production of different types of mushroom in hills. Techniques of spawning with wheat straw,  leaf straw, grains of barley and wheat were standardised. Spawns of Agaricus and  Pleurotus are available. Results indicated that button mushroom can be grown under natural  conditions in lower hills from February to April   and from September to November, whereas Pleurotus can be successfully grown during April to July. Different species of Pleurotus, such as Pleurotus flabellatus and Pleurotus sajor caju were successfully grown on paddy and wheat straw media. It is observed that paddy straw culture is more suitable than . wheat straw. Locally available forest waste can be used as a medium for spawning of Pleurotus ostreatus. DRDO now has the requisite know-how for preparation of various European and Japanese mushroom spawns that result in optimum growth with better quality and nutritional attributes.

True Potato Seed (TPS) Technology

Potato berries (TPS)This technology has been perfected for production of quality seeds of potatoes in high altitude areas. The technology has benefitted local farmers in high altitude areas, like Ladakh who earlier used to procure potato seeds from other states. Approximately, 150 g of true potato seed can replace 25 qunital of potato tubers required for planting one hectare area. The hybrid true potato seed Potato berries (TPS) production in Ladakh has a great potential for export also.

Poultry Production Technology

Brooding of chicksUnderground poultry at Leh

The basic principle of rearing poultry in extreme cold weather and high altitude conditions is to maintain optimum temperature and adequate ventilation in poultry sheds. An underground poultry shed has been designed and tested for brooding  day-old chicks and raising broiler and layers poultry in high altitude. The shed is designed to exploit solar energy and to conserve it for longer hours at nights. The advantage of harnessing soil heat is also there. This technology demonstrated successful production of poultry in very high altitudes up to 13,000' above mean sea level.