HYDERABAD: Sample this: a single plant of bitter gourd or tomato yielding as many as 120 to 250 units of the vegetable respectively against the norm of around 60 or 100 units, a single chilli plant giving super high yields for as long as 7-8 harvests or a Zucchini having the girth of a bottle gourd. No, this is not a scene from a super farm from the planet of apes but these plants are being grown in a farm at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), where the scientists are working on implementing the grafting technique in vegetables.
If these scientists are to be believed, vegetable grafting would result in plants that are more tolerant to bacterial wilt, thereby increasing its longevity as well as yield and reducing losses for vegetable farmers and increasing their revenue. Vegetable grafting research at ICRISAT is focused on tomato and chilli plants, but is also being tested upon capsicum, brinjal, bitter gourd, snake gourd and even the exotic vegetable zucchini.
Impact on farmers
However, if vegetable grafting is to be used in the future, farmers will have to buy grafted seedlings, instead of seeds, directly from nurseries and then plant them in their fields. Moreover, grafted vegetable plants will require more nutrients compared to normal ones. When asked about this, Dr Suhas Wani, research programme director-Asia and director, ICRISAT Development Centre, said that the revenue generated through high yields coupled with the long life of the grafted vegetable plants will be much higher than that of normal vegetable plants.
What is veg grafting?
Vegetable grafting involves cutting the stem of a vegetable plant at the seedling stage and attaching it to the root stock of the seedling of a vegetable plant like wild brinjal or pumpkin. Once the attachment is made, the grafted seedling is grown in controlled climatic conditions, after which it can be planted in the field.
Vegetable grafting research at ICRISAT is being conducted along with a private agriculture startup incubated at ICRISAT. Horticulture department of Andhra Pradesh has okayed testing the grafted vegetable seedlings but there has been no such proposal from Telangana.