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Indegenious Technical Knowledge of Meghalaya

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Selection of seed

The farmers select the bold grains for seed purpose. Fields having healthy crop growth are selected for selecting seeds. Second selection done in the threshing floor. While threshing manually, the bold seeds that are easily shattered by the first two beatings are considered. This Process is effective in separating out the partially filled and diseased grains. The seeds selected by this process possess more vigour.

storage of seeds

Rice seeds stored in straw bin (locally known as tom in Assam) fornext year sowing posses better viability than the seeds stored in gunny bags. Several layers of paddy straw covering the seeds act as barrier for circulation of atmosphereic air into it. Thus the atmospheric air with high humidity does not enter into the seed mass. The microenvironment with low humidity helps in decreasing the pest activity and hence maintains seed viability for a longer period.
Sowing time
Farmers sow deep and semi-deep water rice when the mole cricket (Gyllotapa africana) starts creating sound. The insect makes its presence in the month of April in Assam indicating the early advancement of monsoon and early sowing of bao rice (deep water rice) which concedes with the real situation. The insect creates high pitch sound during its flight from trees to trees. This biological change is very much perceptible due to frequent high pitch sound and usually occurs during May.
Double transplanting of rice seedlings
Double transplanting is a method for seedling multiplication under seedling scarcity situation. This situation usually arises when the established crop is damaged in field by flood. For lower Assam situation, photoperiod sensitive rice varieties flowering in the last week of October are ideal. Seeds of suitable varieties are sown in nursery in the month of June and transplanted at one-month age in the second nursery. The second nursery should be in shallow low land, where the risk of damaging the seedlings from flood is free. As the objective is to multiply the seedlings, the transplanted seedlings in second nursery are uprooted. Hills are spitted into small ones, each containing two tillers. Such small hills are transplanted in the main field. Even in absence of flood, seedlings raised through double transplanted technique and used at about two-months stage perform better than the normal seedlings transplanted at one-month stage. Double transplanting is thus desirable as contingent measure in flood prone low lands of Assam. Hussain and Siddiq (1988) reported that this technique could be applied for rice hybrids because their seeds are cost prohibitive.

Water management
Frequent croaking by frog indicates happening of rainfall and accordingly farmers schedule their irrigation and drainage practices.
In Boro season, low temperature in the northeastern region severely restricts growth and subsequently leads to death of rice seedling in nursery. In order to partly overcome this problem, farmers irrigate the rice fields in the afternoon and drain away the cold water in the rooming. Water is having high specific heat (1 cal/g/°C) as compared to soil. Hence, it absorbs more solar energy during daytime as compared to soil. Due to high specific heat, water gets cooled slowly and thus keeps the plants warmer during night. By morning, water gets cooled and its drainage helps exposure of soil to direct sunlight and fast warming up.
Mixed sowing
Farmers in Assam follow the practice of mixed sowing of ahu (pre-autumn upland rice) and bao (semi-deep and deep water rice) rice in flood prone rainfed lowlands. This provides an insurance against the total crop failure in the event of aberrant rainfall in terms of time of occurrence with respect to crop growth stage, or total amount and its distribution, finally leading to drought or flood. In the years of early season deficit rainfall and slow rate of water accumulation in field, the drought tolerant ahu rice becomes successful and the bao crop fails. However, ifthere is early season flood, then the flood tolerant bao crop becomes successful. Hence, mixed cropping of ahu and bao provides a minimum assured yield in the event of abnormal rainfall situation.
Rice-cum-fish-culture
In northeastern region water stagnates in the low-lying rice fields for prolonged period providing favourable habitat for fish farming. Farmers, therefore, adopt rice-cum-fish-culture to utilize the natural resource of stagnating water. This system is also practiced in Apatani valley in Arunachal Pradesh since time immemorial (Melkania, 2001)

Control of stink bug/gundhi bug
Stinkbug or gundhibug (Leptocorisa varicornis Fab. And L. acuta Thun.) is of economic importance from flowering to milking stages of rice crop. Both nymphs and adults of stink bug suck the milky sap of tender rice grains. Affected grains in the panicle turn into white chaffy. The insect is active from May to October coinciding with high atmospheric temperature and humidity. This destructive pest usually appears in the rice field at the time of panicle emergence. Weeds, volunteer rice and wild rice act as collateral host for this pest. Round the year rice cultivation in lower Assam also favours their perpetuation. In Assam, boro (NovemberlDecember- April/May), early ahu (January/ February - April/May), ahu (March! April- June/July) and Sali (May/  June - OctoberlNovember) season rice are affected by this pest. Trapping, repelling and encouraging predatory birds are traditional technologies offarmers to control this pest without involving monetary insects.
Choudhary et al., 1993). The paddy fields with one or two feet standing water, locally known as pani kheti are used for this system. Rice-cum- fish-culture provides ample scope to increase fish production
Stinkbugs are repelled away with the smell and odour emending from the peels of grape fruit (Citus paradisica). The bugs are active on rice panicles at milking stage. When the peels of grape fruit are kept in the rice field at flowering or milking stage, the bugs repel away. Grape fruits are plenty during this period making this technology feasible.
·    Birds like sky lark (gurkha baduli) are effective predators to control stinkbug. Providing supports like bamboo or wooden sticks at canopy level encourages the presence of these birds in rice field. The predatory birds sit on these supports and eat away both the nymphs and adults of stink bug. These birds do not feed on rice grains. Depending on pest pressure, 20-30 such supports per acre are sufficient for effective management of stinkbug. However, the population of this beneficial bird has of late been drastically reduced.
·    In Arunachal Pradesh (West Siang, East Siang, Lower Subansiri and Upper Subansiri districts), as soon as the pest appears in the field
·    Control of stinkbugs by trapping with rotten crabs or eels (Amphipuous cuchia) by hanging dead crabs or eels (after breaking the shell) in rice fields with the help of threads attached to bamboo sticks. Stink bugs are attracted by the rotten smell of these trapping materials and feed on these. At this point, it is easy to kill the pest mechanically with the help of a net or by fire. The rotten eels attract more number 0 bugs than the rotten crabs and the former can act as trap material for 8 - 10 days as compared to 5 - 6 days .of the latter. Eight to ten traps when used m the beginning 0f flowering (before the pest population build up) will be effective in managing the bug population. Fresh water crabs and eels are available in the entire Brahmaputra valley.

During flowering local farmers fix several short woodenlbamboo sticks randomly at certain intervals at rice fields (both lowland and upland conditions). Then dead frogs/crabs are placed on the top of each stick. As the dead frogs/crabs get rotten and start to emit foul smell, adult gundhibugs are attracted by this foul smell and gather in mass on the rotten frogs/crabs. Sometimes farmers also seen to tie pieces of salted fish with each stick. The reasoning behind this local practice is that until or unless emitting of this foul smell stops, adult gundhibugs remain busy in large numbers with these rotten frogs/crabs/fishes kept on sticks for at least 5-6 days. In the mean time, milk stage of rice florets turn into thick dough stage. Naturally gundhibugs then do not prefer to feed on rice florets and damage to rice grains is automatically reduced (Singh and Bag, 2002).

Growing dhaincha
Fanners believe that growing dhaincha plants on the field border is beneficial. They also put the twigs oftrees at few points in the field. The twigs provide habitats for natural enemies like spider, dragonfly etc. Dhaincha is also a nitrogen fixer in symbiosis with rhizobium.

Scaring away of sparrows
Sparrows are very common pest in rice fields at maturity of thecrop in the northeastern region. These little birds move in groups and cause sufficient yield loss by eating away the grains. Fanners scare away by them keeping the black-coloured pseudostems of arum (Colocassia sps) above the canopy level at the crop maturity stage. The pseudostems are given the shape ofthe head of the snake by sharpening with a knife and then these are mounted on bamboo sticks. The structures are erected in rice fields at some interval so that the dark coloured- pseudostems remain about 5 cm above the canopy level. This mimics the head of snake and hence sparrows are scared away.
Fanners of Arunachal Pradesh employ a bow shaped noose trap for trapping the birds damaging paddy. One end of the bow is made into a small triangle by means of cane or bamboo strips. Onthe other end of the bow is fixed a string with a wooden spike. In order to set the trap, the bow is given tension by fixing the wooden spike lightly inside the triangle forming a noose on which the bait is placed. As a bird attracted by the bait, sits on the noose, its weight presses the wooden spike and releases the bow, which shoots up and strangles the bird in between the string and side of the triangle. This trap is very effective for killing small birds. The trap is usually fixed on the branches of trees.

Grain storage and rat trap
Grains are stored with the leaves of neem (Azadirechta indica) or tulsi (Ocimum basilicumi. After spreading the leaves from top of the storage structures, it is closed. The smell of these leaves keeps the insects away from the structures. Fanners believe that the wood ash is effective in controlling pests in stored grains. It is specifically used in seed small storage. The ash is mixed with grains based on the extent of infestation, quantity of grains and storage structures.
in controlling pests in stored grains. It is specifically used in seed small storage. The ash is mixed with grains based on the extent of infestation, quantity of grains and storage structures.
Nahu (granary), an Adi traditional system of storing rice is a highly scientific storage system in Arunachal Pradesh. A cluster of nahu storage system can be seen at the one corner of village of Adi tribes. The nahu constructed in one corner of the village away from living houses so that if there is accident of'fire in the living houses of the village, granary (nahu) is not affected. Capacity of a single nahu varies from few quintals to 200 q depending upon the size and richness of the family. The locally available took leaf iLivistona jenkinsianai, bamboo, wooden planks and cane are used for construction of nahu. Foot of each plank is put on stone to avoid its contact with moist soil. To stop rats to enter the nahu, rectangular or round wooden container is put in each foot of the standing system. The grains are stored by making airtight compartments made up of bamboo mats.
Nishi tribe of Arunachal pradesh also uses rat traps called gurung. the trap is made up oftauk(thin bamboo) with long internodes. They put the trap nearby hole in the house or paddy field. In this trap, neck of rat gets tied, when it enters the trap and dies. The rats are also used for food depending upon their size.
In Meghalaya, the Garos use grain storage structures made up of thatch grass, bamboo and wooden poles. They fit inverted tin container in the foot of the structures to prevent rat damage. This simple technique keeps away rats very effectively.
Some other TTK practiced by fanners of NE India (Sanna et 1.,2002) are:

·    To check multiplication of stem borers, which lay eggs on top portion of leaves, fanners cut top portion of Sali rice seedlings before transplanting.
·    To frighten birds and animals, fanners keep human status model made of thatch in rice fields.
·    For control of paddy leaf roller, farmers in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh cut bamboo shoots into pieces and spray in rice fields after soaking in water overnight.
·    To reduce excessive vegetative growth, the practice of allowing grazing animals in standing bao rice fields during tillering stage is seen in many areas of Assam.
·    To reduce growth of weeds, farmers in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh and Kohima distrct of Nagaland apply common salt-water solution in upland rice crop.

File Courtesy: 
ICAR-NEH.Umiam
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