Government officers learn about tomato grafting
By grafting tomato on wild eggplant rootstocks, farmers can avoid bacterial wilt and root knot nematode problems. In India there are now many commercial vegetable nurseries producing grafted seedlings, but high prices prevent small and marginal farmers from purchasing the seedlings.
Vegetable grafting is a new technique for staff of the Horticulture Department in Telangana state, India. Although many were aware of grafting for fruit crops, they had never tried the method with vegetables.
To ensure horticulture officers could share this useful production method with farmers and nursery owners, Telangana state requested WorldVeg South Asia to provide a one-day grafting training course for its staff and some local nursery managers. M. Ravishankar and P.V.L Bharathi from WorldVeg organized the training session at the Centre of Excellence in Hyderabad.
“Our commissioner visited farmers’ fields in Chattisgarh and noticed that the yields of eggplant tripled with grafted seedlings,” said one department officer. “Is it possible?”
Another participant was curious to know why a farmer has to transplant grafted seedlings when there are many high yielding hybrid varieties in the market.
These and many other questions were answered by the WorldVeg team. Participants learned when and how to graft; which varieties, rootstocks and scions were available; how to evaluate the compatibility of rootstocks and scions; how to harden-off grafted seedlings; and the special care required for grafted seedlings before and after transplantation.
After screening a WorldVeg video about grafting, Ravishankar explained the technique to the participants, who then practiced tube and clip techniques to graft tomato and eggplant seedlings onto eggplant rootstocks. The group learned how to make a simple but effective grafting chamber— a dark, humid shelter in which grafted seedlings are placed to allow the grafts to heal. Although they did not practice on any other crops, they were intrigued by the idea of cucurbit grafting.
When requested to share their feedback on the course, the participants said that tube grafting was easier for beginners to learn than clip grafting. Equipped with new skills and knowledge, the officers were motivated to train farmers and nursery owners to produce grafted seedlings.
“Before coming here, I never thought I could do vegetable grafting,” said a nursery owner who attended the program. “The technique I learned here is so simple, I am sure of producing successful grafts.”
Story and photos: PVL Bharathi and M Ravishankar