Sustainable Agriculture Forum

Farmers turning towards neem based pesticides to cut cost

Posted by Ramoo on February 27, 2007

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/0152007022603…

New Delhi, Feb. 26 (PTI): Debt-ridden farmers in Maharashtra, particularly in Vidarbha region which has reported highest number of suicides among peasants, are turning towards eco-friendly neem-based pest control agents to cut down their huge expenditure on chemical pesticides.

“Over 600 farmers from three districts namely Nagpur, Vardha and Yawatmal in Vidarbha region are being covered under the phase 2 of the neem project supported by the Chemical and Fertiliser Ministry,” Y P Ramdev from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) said here.

Under the project, entitled “Production and Promotion of Neem-based Pesticides as Environment Friendly, Biodegradable Alternatives to Chemical Pesticides”, the target farmers are made aware of the benefits of the neem-based pesticides besides distributing neem seeds kernel free of cost for usage.

In fact, not only Maharashtra farmers from Vidarbha, but the plantation crops in tea, coffee and spices in north-eastern states, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Kerala will be covered under the project, initiated in 2006, for the next three years, he said.

The first phase of the project spanning three years was launched in 2002 in West Bengal and Vidarbha region during which a low cost technology for neem pesticides production was developed.

After getting encouraging response from the beneficiaries, the project has been extended to cover more farmers.

The Rs 3.6 crore project is being implemented across the country by UNIDO while the Fertiliser and Chemical Ministry is funding it.

The farmers would be demonstrated the use of neem-based pesticides as a cost-effective substances to substitute chemical pesticides.

An analysis of the plants treated with neem kernal aqua extract (NKAE) pesticides and chemical fertilisers have revealed that the former had shown either better results or equivalent to that of fertilisers.

The NKAE can be sprayed on varied crops such as rice, wheat, cotton, vegetables, fruit crops, pulses and spices, the UNIDO official said.

Issues like problems of toxic pesticide residues in the food, water and food material resulting in environmental degradation can also be resolved by this cheap alternative pest control solutions, he added.

Since neem tree, also known as ‘wonder tree’, can be grown in even the most arid and nutrient-deficient soils, the farmers opting the neem technology can rest assured for the availability of neem seeds.

Efforts are on to seek help from the Environment Ministry to plant more neems across the country to ensure its easy availability.

“It also helps farmers address several requirements such as organic manure, organic pesticides, generation of income and offer employment opportunities in the rural areas by forming self-help groups of women,” said Ramdev.

However, he said, erratic supply of organic vegetables and poor level of awareness among farmers about neem usages considering huge cost incurred on advertising by chemical pesticide producers, were some of the major challenges faced by this alternative pest control.

“Also, unlike chemical pesticides, results accrued from the neem pesticides are very slow though they are long lasting. That is why the farmers are reluctant to adopt the eco-friendly pesticides,” said Ramdev

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