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Indigenous Technology of Tuber Crop Cultivation

Indigenous Technical Knowledge (ITK) is knowledge unique to the society or culture. Indigenous knowledge is holistic in nature and has been integrated into the lives of people and used by people from time immemorial. For a long time, indigenous knowledge was ignored by modern science and it was said to be primitive, superstitious, or unscientific. Recently, modern science has rediscovered the wisdom of indigenous knowledge. It is right time for the scientists and farmers to work together to improve the indigenous practices and to derive maximum advantages and improve health. Tuber crops are cultivated by tribals and resource poor farmers from time immemorial that led to the development of several indigenous cultivation, plant protection and processing technologies. Even though several useful technologies have been recorded, they can prove their wide applicability only if they are made known and can be validated. A harmonious blend of indigenous knowledge with modern science is essential to promote sustainable development and utilization of tuber crops.

Indigenous Technical Knowledge: These are the essence of tribal life style and have an indispensible utility in all walks of life in one or other arena. Some of the following technologies are given below-

1.       Planting Giant Taro in upland gives lower acridity corms.

2.       Use of small cormels for production seed corms in EFY is popular in Gujarat and Tripura.

3.       Planting of Dioscorea in the cement bags kept inside a pit is used for early harvest of deeply grown tubers of D. alata.

4.       The pit made for planting Dioscorea spp. is filled with banana pseudostem. This method is used for production long tubers with higher yield.

5.       Cassava stems are used in ponds for protection and periphyton development. The cassava stem has got dual advantages in using ponds. It will give protection like that of bamboo in the ponds. The semi-decayed peels of the stems would be ideal food for Omni-carps.

6.       They float on water and can be readily harvested.

7.       Cassava and Sweet potato leaves are used to feed the grass carps.

8.      Colocasia leaves are used for making beverages in tribes of Tripura.

9.       In Peddapuram and Dapoli, 3/4 RD of FYM+ N&K+ Green leaf manure (Glyricidia leaf@ 25 t/ha) + 3% panchagavya foliar spray recorded higher tuber yield in Cassava.

10.    Defoliation of 50 % and 75% leaves had significant reduction on tuber yield in Cassava at Peddapuram.

11.     Cassava leaves were used for rearing of Eri-silkworm at Peddapuram and Jorhat.

Sweet potato

Crop Rotation: The ideal sequence are maize (kharif)-sweet potato (autumn with early cultivars), wheat (rabi)-green gram (summer) and maize-sweet potato-onion in Northern Bihar; cereal crop followed by sweet potato in Tamil Nadu; rice-rice-sweet potato under lowland and rice-sweet potato-fallow in upland in Kerala; sweet potato followed by jute and upland rice in eastern zone of India.

Storage: the indigenous storage practices are the heaps of sweet potato roots cover them with a layer of straw and plaster with a mixture of clay soils and cow dung under the shade; pit covered with dried banana leaves and soil and a thatch over it; earthen pots reeled with fine net or cloth.

Elephant foot yam

The big size corm of 2-3 kg is cut into 4-6 pieces by vertically retaining part of the apical bud. Dipping the cut tubers in thick cow dung slurry (1:1) mixed with captan (0.3 %) reduces corm rot in the field and also increases sprouting. Bamboo baskets, paddy straw and dry banana leaves are used for keeping the tubers.


The Malayali tribes indicated that the cassava setts should be planted within three hours after cutting. Storage of setts under high temperatures and low relative humidity, causing about 50% reduction in viability. Intercropping of Dolichos spp. reduces the weed infestation and protects soil erosion. Pig excreta enhance tuber bulking by providing potash.


Farmer-led innovations are both realistic and more imaginative to address location specific problems. There is need to document and disseminate such innovations for wider adoption. ITK has to be blended with scientific innovations through participatory research approach. Also institutional support for scientific documentation of ITKs would be needed as a matter of priority.


Edison, S., Unnikrishnan, M., Vimala, B., Pillai, S.V., Sheela, M.N., Sreekumari, M.T. and Abraham, K. 2006. Biodiversity of tropical tuber crops in India. NBA Scientific Bulletin Number - 7, National Biodiversity Authority, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, pp. 36-43.

Venkatesan, P. and Sundaramari, M. 2014. Scientific rationality, adoption and perceived effectiveness of traditional agricultural practices of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz.) in Kolli Hills, India. Journal of Root Crops, 40(2): 58-65.

Seesahai, A. and Persad, K. 2011. Cassava production: A farmerís guide to selecting high quality planting material. Sugarcane Feeds Center Seminar Series. Available at http://www.cardi.org/cfc-rt/files/downloads/ 2012/08/CASSAVAPRODUCTION.pdf.

Misra, R.S. 2008. Disease identification, bio-control agentís production and integrated disease management. In: Ramanathan, S. and Sreekumar, J. (Eds.). Model training course on integrated production and processing management for tropical tuber crops Ė Course document, pp. 122-129, Thiruvananthapuram, Central Tuber Crops Research Institute.

Meganathan, N., Selvakumar, K. N., Prabu, M., Pandian, A.S.S. and Kumar, G.S. 2010. Constraint analysis of tribal livestock farming in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu J. Vet. Anim. Sci., 6(1): 12-18

Writer :: Sagarika Bhowmik and Sunil Kumar Yadav      Published on :: 03-Jun-2019

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