In a bid to lessen the effects of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides on crops, the Agricultural College and Research Institute, Madurai is promoting ‘Integrated Pest Management’ (IPM) which provides farmers with alternative natural options to chemicals.
Addressing farmers in the district during a recent meeting at the Collectorate, M. Kalyanasundaram, Head, Department of Agricultural Entomology stressed the importance of bio-pesticides and insecticides as viable natural options.
“Bio-insecticides which comprise of naturally available parasites, predators and beneficial pathogens can be identified and let into the fields where they will keep pests away. Chemical insecticides should be used only as a last resort,” he said.
Mr. Kalyanasundaram further said that while the district did not use excess chemical pesticides, the farmers should be made aware of giving specific waiting time after they used pesticides on their crops.
“There should be a specific time given before they bring their produce to the market since bringing the crops early would mean that the residual content of chemicals is still very high on the produce. We have carried out research on the same and given farmers lists pertaining to the ‘waiting time’ for different crops which should be followed,” he said.
In the district, there are six Self Help Groups (SHGs) which are involved in the mass culturing of bio-insecticides comprising beneficial pathogens and predators. As alternatives, the faculty from the department of Agricultural Entomology have also recommended the use of neem oil, neem cake, pungam oil and other plant-based extracts on produce which are harvested and to be sold off.
Farmers in the district however said that despite extensive research being carried out, such practices had to be implemented properly.
M. Pandi, president of the Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Association further appealed to District Collector L. Subramanian to examine the feasibility of providing infrastructure for compost pits in the houses being built under the Chief Minister’s Green house scheme.
“Chemical insecticides should be used only as a last resort”