The following areas are selected as thrust areas of research for the ARTD Faculty Centre, RKMVERI, Ranchi Campus.

1. Management of Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer through non-chemical approaches.

Brinjal is highly cosmopolitan and popular vegetable grown as poor man’s crop in India. However, the yield and marketable quality of the crop is severely affected by brinjal shoot and fruit borer (BSFB) [Leucinodes orbonalis Guenee (Lepidoptera: Pyraustidae)] that causes significant losses of the crop. The infestation of BSFB is also a global concerned today. Generally farmers use chemical pesticides for control of the pest and thus spending a significant part of the cost of cultivation mainly towards chemical pesticide-based plant protection measures. Many farmers refrain from growing eggplant due to the high cost of pesticide. However, the management of this pest has long been considered challenging due to several reasons. There is, therefore, an utmost urgency for developing alternative management strategies which include screening of different cultivars tolerant or resistant to this severe insect-pest, use of bio-pesticides and bio-agents or even homemade bio-formulations towards non-chemical approach of management of this insect-pest. Research priority needs to be fixed in this context and it is therefore necessary to formulate package of practices through organic farming for management of the insect-pest under Chhotanagpur plateau of Jharkhand.

2. Screening different genotypes/varieties including local cultivars/land races of different important vegetables of Jharkhand through non-chemical farming approaches and standardization of agro-techniques for cultivation of those crops by means of organic farming/non-chemical farming practices.

Screening and evaluation of different genotypes/varieties/local cultivars/land races of the crops are important because it has been established that the genetic entity of the crop and its growing environments coupled with the management practices determine the overall performance of particular crop variety. Chhotanagpur plateau of Jharkhand is often considered as vegetable bowl of Eastern India and this zone is also famous for quality vegetable production. However, vegetables those are commercially cultivated in this plateau region are mainly based on huge application of synthetic agro-chemicals. As a consequence, vegetables grown through such conventional chemical farming often content different residual toxic substances of several agro-chemicals used for their growing, as established by different researchers of the globe through their intensive research findings. Organic farming, on the other hand, has minimum or nil adverse effects in this regard. Thereby, non-chemical farming approaches most specifically organic farming is taken into consideration as another research priority area of this faculty centre in order to cope up with the ill effects of chemical farming in different important crops of Jharkhand in general and vegetables in particular. In addition to these, Jharkhand has several bottlenecks for agricultural development like low water holding capacity of soil, poor organic matter content in soils along with acidic soil reactions. Such difficulties can effectively be minimized through different non-chemical farming approaches and organic farming is a suitable alternative in this context. Hence, research priority towards standardization of agro-techniques for different important vegetables of the state through organic or non-chemical farming practice is also taken into account.

3. Development of vegetative propagation techniques including tissue culture protocols for different high value horticultural crops of their commercial importance in Jharkhand.

Most of the farmers of Jharkhand especially tribal farmers are the bracket of either marginal or small categories and they are often considered as resource poor farmers. In addition to this, they are also very economically poor and unable to afford the high cost of inputs for growing different crops. The planting materials of different horticultural crops more specifically the seeds of F1 hybrids are more expensive. Farmers have to purchase costly seeds of F1 hybrid every year to grow the crop because the seeds obtained from the crop of F1 hybrid will show segregation in the succeeding generation. In order to avoid such difficulties of the farmers of Jharkhand, our Rural and Tribal Development Faculty Centre of Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, Ranchi has given research priority to standardize different asexual modes of propagation for different crop varieties of their commercial significance through cutting, layering etc. including tissue culture protocols for their large scale multiplication. For example in the cases of brinjal, the cost of hybrid seeds is out of reach to the most of the tribal farmers of Jharkhand but if anyway they able to purchase the same once, their further multiplication through low cost involving vegetative propagation methods like cutting, layering may avoid the recurrent expenditure towards procuring the costly F1 hybrid seeds of the crop in every year. However, systematic research in this particular area is crucial because the methods of propagation of different crops and their varieties/species show different degrees of successfulness in different growing environments which need to be evaluated judiciously. The low cost involving asexual propagation techniques in different crops may reduce the cost towards purchasing of costly seed input of the crops and thereby the resource poor farmers of the state may be benefitted. Likewise, different high value horticultural crops have commercial importance and therefore their mass multiplications through micro-propagation techniques need to be addressed simultaneously.

4. Development of bio-intensive management practices for different insect-pests of important crops of Jharkhand.

Yield of crop plants is greatly affected by many abiotic and biotic stresses, among these pests are one of the major bottlenecks in crop production throughout the world. The present plant protection scenario is largely oriented towards chemical control with increased use of chemical pesticides in the last few decades. Though encouraging effects of chemical pesticides have gained lot of importance in targeting food security but their injudicious use has resulted in to development of resistance in pests, bioaccumulation and bio-magnifications of toxic residue and environmental contamination. It leads to change in the food habit among the people which is more focused towards organic agricultural produce. It is therefore, greatest need to identify alternative to chemical pesticide in plant protection. Among various non-chemical practices, use of different bio-pesticides and bio-agents has already proved to be a valuable tool against different pests. The land holding of farmers in Jharkhand is low, thereby; these tools can prove their effectiveness more successfully as requirement is less for management through this aspect. Also the cultivation of vegetables has been gaining substantial interest among the farmers of Jharkhand, where the pesticides are indiscriminately used for management of different pests. Under such circumstances several bio-pesticides and bio-agents are needed to be evaluated against pests for the justification of bio-intensive pest management as one of the important line of defense with the demand of time.