Need to promote oilseed-rape (canola) cultivation
March 30th, 2015 | Farhan Rashid, Dr. Ejaz Ahmad Waraich and Zahoor Ahmad | No Comments
PRICEY and scarce crop inputs such as pesticides, quality seed, fertilizers and competitive price advantage of rice, sugarcane, and corn over cotton are some grounds for decreasing in the area under cotton cultivation in the country, a leading edible oil producing crop in the country. The public and private sectors have made efforts to enhance the better returns to the cotton growers but despite of any success, area under cotton cultivation has squeezed from 3056 thousand hectares to 2805 thousand hectares since 2007-08. Despite of being a fiber crop, cotton has a key role in edible oil production in the country, which is ultimately at risk due to contraction of the area under cotton cultivation.
Rapeseed-canola growing can be an effective alternative in such conditions in order to reduce the increasing loads on the cotton for edible oil demand. Rapeseed-canola is simply transformed form of it with low contents of Erucic acid, an unwanted chemical that makes rapeseed misfit to human consumption and as oilseed cake for animals. It is 2nd major edible oil producing crop of the country. Even though, being an agricultural country, Pakistan is running short in edible oils. It was listed among the chief importer of canola from Australia, Canada, during the preceding year to a quantity of 737 thousand tonnes of canola draining a major share of national economy in foreign import. Rapeseed-Canola can be an astute option in such conditions to meet the escalating demand of supreme quality edible oil of ever growing population of the country.
Canola is crop of temperate region and grows in cool temperatures. Growing conditions are similar to the other winter crops with cool temperature for its germination and rest of the vegetative growth and relatively a bit warm condition for its seed setting. However, a higher temperature with low moisture content in rhizosphere of the crop may lead to reduction in seed size and yield. Shorter crop growing period also minimize the expenditures on plant protection measures. The major advantage of the crop is its halophytic nature due to which it can tolerate saline soil environment without any decline in its yield and quality of oil. Slightly alkaline soil with good tilth and drainage is considered suitable for the oilseed rape canola cultivation, as the crop doesnt tolerate winter water logging. A key point of the canola is its quick and immediate response to nitrogen fertilizer which has positive affect on its vegetative growth defense against biotic and abiotic stresses. The crops phosphorous demand is more crucial as uniform maturity requires phosphorous which is important factor in yield and its quality. Decision about the harvesting of canola has its importance beyond the limits as reduction in yield has been reported in early harvesting, and if get too late, it causes pod shattering. Crop with 15% moisture content means that 60-70% dry pods, and the time is optimum for its harvesting. Threshing is performed after field dying of harvested crop for 8-10 days. Problem may be at its oil extraction due to energy crises prevailing these days, as oil extraction milling of canola demands high energy resulting an upsurge in oil extraction costs and may paralyze its further processing to exploit its beneficial usage particularly as edible oil in various food industries. The oilseed cake production during its oil milling balances this cost which is highly nutritious for milking animals.
Government has taken initiatives for enhancement of the production of canola through private and public research, as well as extension bodies. But these steps are insufficient in promoting canola production to match with the growing demand of edible oil in the country. Some of the cooking oil mills are now expressing their interest in facilitating farmers in canola cultivation by their self extension services in certain districts of Punjab, Sindh and KPK, as they have forecasted the future crises for the edible oil due to leap down in the area under cotton cultivation which is considered as chief edible oil source in the country.
So, it is an apt time to promote the canola cultivation at a large scale like wheat, cotton, maize, and sugarcane. In return, the issues like energy crises, reduced cotton cultivation and water shortage may not affect negatively on the edible oil availability in future. Government should offer special attention in this regard at its end.
Published in: Volume 06 Issue 13
Short Link: http://www.technologytimes.pk/?p=13003