Bhaderwah Rajmash: A variety unique in taste

Dr.Banarsi Lal and Dr.AS Charak
Jammu and Kashmir is endowed with diverse agro-climatic conditions. This hilly state is blessed with immense natural beauty. The state is endowed with ample natural resources including soil, water, climatic condition, diversity, topography, rich natural flora etc. which are conducive for the cultivation of a wide range of pulses.
Agriculture is the backbone of Jammu and Kashmir state and this sector provides employment directly or indirectly to around 70 per cent of the state population. Agriculture contributes about 65 per cent of the state revenue which signifies the overdependence of the state on agriculture. The total geographical area of this state is 2, 22, 236 sq. km and its population is 1, 25, 48,926 (Census 2011). The average size of land holding of the state is only 0.67 hectare against 1.33 hectares’ land holding size on national basis. About 30 per cent of the area of the state under cultivation. The agro-diversity of J&K state varies from sub-tropical in Jammu region, temperate in Kashmir region and cold arid in Ladakh region. The average annual rainfall of these three regions is 1069mm, 660mm and 80-90mm respectively while the average temperatures are 24.5, 13.3 and 5.3 Centigrade respectively. There is an urgent need to increase the income and employment in agriculture and allied sectors for the farmers in the state and this is possible by the promotion of diversification in agriculture. The state’s 58 per cent area under agriculture is rainfed and remaining 42 per cent is irrigated. Maize is the major crop of the state but there is an immense potential of pulses production in the state.
Bhaderwah is a unique place on the earth. It is bestowed with treasures of nature. Bhaderwah valley is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, evergreen vegetations and tumultuous transparent rivers. Rajmash is grown mainly in Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar districts of Jammu division of J&K. Bhaderwah Rajmash is famous across the globe because of its delightful taste. It contains exceptional cooking qualities, easily digestible and attracting colour. Its grains are small in size and are unique in taste and colour. Being a popular dish it is prepared in almost all the occasions across the region. A 100 grams of boiled Rajmash beans contain 140 calories, 5.7 grams of protein, 5.9 grams of fat and nearly 17.8 grams of carbohydrate. It also contains anti-oxidants and rich in soluble fiber. Bhaderwah Rajmash is exceptional in taste and flavour. It has high demand in the market. Bhaderwah Rajmash is a local pole type trailing variety. It is an herbaceous annual plant grown for its edible dry beans. The main marketing channels are brokers and local traders. They facilitate the farmers to sale their farm produce.
Rajmash in Doda district is mainly grown in Bhaderwah, Sungli, Chinta, Sartangal, Nalthi, Kakol Mathal, Kansar, Lanchan, Thathri, Gandoh and Premnagar. It is also grown in Paddar, Chatroo, Warwah, Dakshin, Chingam and Dehrna area of Kishtwar district and Gool Gulabgarh area of Ramban district. Farmers collect their own seeds from better genotypes and keep it for the next generation. Mostly good quality seed from previous year crop is collected and preserved for the next season. To observe the desired tilth, the land is ploughed with MB plough (soil turning plough) for 3-4 times. Each ploughing is followed by planking to ensure fine tilth and moisture conservation. Its crop is sown in a well drained soil, as Rajmash and maize both are sensitive to water stagnation. Manures and fertilizers both play an important role in Rajmash cultivation. It is slow in biological nitrogen fixation because of poor nodulation. Farmers add organic manure in the soil to improve the general physical conditions and structure of the soil. About 10-15 tonnes/ha well rotten farm yard manure or compost is applied by the farmers before sowing and it gives good results. Additional doses of N, P and K are also applied by the farmers for its better yield.
Rajmash is a very popular crop in the area. Rajmash and rice is the most likely dish in the North India. Rajmash and rice of Peerah in Ramban district are very famous and going further the Rajmash of Chinta Valley in Doda district are said to be amongst the most popular. Traditionally it is grown as an intercrop with maize from since ages. This intercrop combination is an ideal combination to generate high economy in the hilly regions and is a sustainable soil enhancing practice. The local tall white maize variety gives ideal staking to its plant for its twining pole type variety. It is harvested in 2-3 pickings at 7- 10 days interval as the pods at lower end mature earlier and seeds are dispersed by over maturity in the field. Maize-Rajmash combination also helps to reduce soil erosion of the sloppy lands in the hills, which is a major problem of this area particularly in the solo maize growing fields. This is a traditional agricultural practice adopted since ages in this region. Bhaderwah Rajmash is a pole or trailing type variety of 3-4 m long.
It is sown in April-May. Seed Rate of 8 kg/ha of Rajmash is used when taken as intercrop with maize (30-35 Kg/ha)(2:1).Row-to Row distance is 30 cm and plant to plant distance is 15-20 cm. Sowing depth is 5-8 cm. Before sowing, seed treatment is done with Bavistin or Thiram @ 2gm/Kg to protect the crop from various diseases at early seedling stage. The sowing is done when there is proper moisture in the soil. Rajmash is severely affected by the weeds in initial stages. First hoeing is done 30-45 days after sowing. Thinning is accompanied with hoeing and weeding after 25-30 DAS. Chemical weed control in Rajmash is also done by the application of weedicides. Bhaderwah Rajmash varieties require support during the crop growth period. So when mixed with maize, it gets natural support from the maize plants. Harvesting of Bhaderwah Rajmash is done after 120-130 days after sowing when leaves and pods turn yellowish brown. The upper leaves remain green till final harvest. Anthracnose (seed and soil borne) disease in Rajmash is managed by the seed treatment with Bavistin (0.2%) with 0.4 % formulations of T.viridie. The Rajmash harvesting is completed in August to September before the harvest of maize crop. The harvested crop is kept for sun drying for a week and thereafter thrashed. After thrashing, seeds are further cleaned and dried for storage .Storage is done in tin bins for 1-2 years. Its yield in mixed cropping is 6-8 qtls. /ha.
Rajmash-kidney beans help to maintain the metabolism of amino acids, gluconeogenesis, neurotransmitter synthesis, fatty acids, lipids, histamine synthesis and hemoglobin synthesis. It is very useful to maintain a healthy skin. There is great demand of Bhaderwah Rajmash across the world. So, there is need to enhance the area, production and the productivity of this important pulse in the district as it is an excellent source of earning for the farmers of the area. Quality research and irrigation facilities are also needed for the Rajmash growers in the district.
There is also need to evaluate the possibility of Organic Rajmash in the district for improving the income of the farmers. Endevours are required for mechanizing the production and introducing new marketing interventions for the Rajmash growers of the district. Mechanization production and introduction of marketing interventions are also required by the farmers. Rajmash growers of the district require special financial support and expertise to protect the future of the Rajmash cultivation in the district. Special policies are needed to strengthen the Rajmash cultivation in the district.