A scheme to expand the application of bio-pesticides as an alternative to chemical pesticides is being taken up by the Indian Cardamom Research Institute, Idukki, in association with United Nations Industrial Development Organisation. Chemical pesticides harm the environment.
Its residue remaining in vegetables and cereals is a potential threat to human health.
Application of bio-pesticides is one of the alternatives employed worldwide. Neem-based pesticide has been tested on a variety of agricultural crops and the results have been encouraging.
The scheme has been implemented successfully in spice plantations in Kerala, according to Spices Board Chairman V.J. Kurien. The project is sought to be expanded to include tea and coffee plantations.
As part of the expansion programme, a seminar was organised in Kochi on Friday to explain the advantages of the environment-friendly, biodegradable pesticide, by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, in association with Spices Board.
The plans to widen the area of application under the Regional Network on Pesticides for Asia and Pacific (RENPAP) were explained by Mathew C. Kunnumkal, Additional Secretary & Financial Adviser, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, who inaugurated the seminar.
The programme was implemented in 15 districts of Maharashtra and 5 districts of West Bengal. The bio-pesticide is found to be effective in controlling over 400 types of pests, he said.
The low cost technology for preparation of neem-based pesticides has been successfully transferred to farmers in the first phase of the project which was implemented at two sites in the country.
Management of pesticide residue in plantation crops such as tea, coffee and spices is being taken up in the ongoing second phase of the project.
New partners The export of the crops had become increasingly difficult due to the presence of toxic residue.
Talking to the media later, he said bio-pesticide development was being taken up as a complementary project to the chemical pesticide production.
The programme is much relevant in Kerala where chemical pesticides pollute water and environment.
He invited new partners such as Coconut Development Board, Rubber Board, Cashew Board and Jute Board to join the programme.
The new phase of the programme focuses on empowering resource-poor farmers to prepare their own eco-friendly pesticides in their farms. Generation of scientific data to facilitate registration under the Insecticide Act is one of the objectives of the programme. He also emphasised the need for organised neem plantation as is being done in People’s Republic of China. P.S. Singh, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilisers, and S.P. Dhua, Regional Coordinator of the programme, were among those present.