Growing okra in coastal areas

August 1, 2011: OKRA, called Bhindi, is cultivated in tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperate regions. It can also be grown in the coastal areas of Pakistan.

The length of the country’s coast is about 1,100kms which ranges from Gwadar in Balochistan to Badin in Sindh. Malir and other adjacent districts of Karachi come under the coastal area.

Where there is shortage of water, drip irrigation system can be adopted. It is a system that applies water and fertilisers directly to the root zone of individual plant instead of irrigating the entire area with flood or sprinkler irrigation. The system comprises pipeline network as main, sub-main, lateral lines and emitters or tricklers which are fitted on laterals from which water is delivered to the plant at a low pressure.

Under proper management, drip irrigation system is capable of saving water, as only the plant’s root zone is supplied with water; under this system, the use of water is efficient with higher crop yield as compared to traditional irrigation method.

In the coastal areas, the groundwater is saline ranging from marginal to hazardous quality and can be used for cultivation of okra and other vegetables. The Coastal Agricultural Research Station of PARC has taken an initiative for using marginal quality irrigation water in comparison to good quality water under drip irrigation system.

The amount of water applied through drip system to okra crop was 6,989.7m3/ha. The crop yield and water use efficiency was 16.96t/ha and 2.43 kg/ respectively. Thus, it was concluded that okra crop can be grown successfully on a sandy loam soil using saline (marginal quality) ground water for irrigation.

Okra has a great potential in coastal areas. Growers should be made aware of the use of saline ground water for vegetable cultivation.

Controlled and on-spot irrigation through drip system seems the only appropriate method to grow and sustain horticultural activities in this region.

It shall not only provide the required water to the plant but will also resist salt built up in the root. Another possibility may be prevention of diseases particularly of fungal origin.

However, there is need for more research on the use of saline ground water for cultivation of winter and summer vegetable crops and fruit orchards in the coastal belts of Sindh and Balochistan under the drip irrigation system for the benefit of the people of these area.

Courtesy: The DAWN