The Krishi Vignana Kendra of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has developed a precision farming module for bitter gourd cultivation with a view to lowering pesticide contamination and ensuring increased availability of locally produced bitter gourd in the market.
The process involves ‘fertigation,’ through which water-soluble nutrients and organic compounds are supplied to the root zone through drip irrigation. The Venturi system is connected to drip irrigation pipes to mix water-soluble nutrients and organic compounds with water.
Plastic mulching is used to cover planting beds, which in turn helps conserve moisture and control weeds. The method helps prevent nutrient loss and reduce the labour required for weed management. Water-soluble nutrients are supplied through drip irrigation tubes every three days in 30-35 split doses, whereas in traditional farming it is applied in 3-4 split doses.
‘Pheromone traps’ are used for controlling fruit fly and ‘yellow sticky traps’ are used against white flies. Neem oil spray is also done as an organic pest repellent.
Nutrient-rich bitter gourd is effective in preventing lifestyle diseases. Since bitter gourd is very much susceptible to diseases and pests, there is indiscriminate use of pesticides, particularly in commercial farming.