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August 11, 2015
Where benign insects control harmful pests.
Much of the destruction that we see on the farm is the result of unwanted and exorbitantly expensive chemical inputs. Take the case of chemical pesticides. It was in late 1970s that David Pimental of the Cornell University had said in his landmark paper
that 99.9 per cent chemical pesticides go into environment and only 0.01 per cent of the pesticides sprayed reach the target pest. Despite this warning, agricultural scientists continued to advocate the use of chemical pesticides. While the industry gained
immensely, farmers as well as the gullible consumers suffered. This makes me wonder whether there is a way out. Can the Indian farmer ever emerge out of the chakravyuah?
.....Last week, I visited Nidana and Lalit Khera, two tiny and nondescript villages in Jind ditrict of Haryana. Farmers and village women in these villages have gone a step ahead. Not only they don't spray chemical pesticides on cotton, they don't even
use bio-pesticides. They have allowed the insect equilibrium to prevail to such an extent that the harmful insects are taken care of by the beneficial insects.
Meena Malik is a 23 year-old graduate, who along with some 30 women of the nearby villages, partakes in a mahila keet pathshala (women insect school) every week. Once in a week, they spread across cotton fields in small groups early in the morning, each
carrying a magnifying glass and with a notebook in hand. They identify the beneficial insects, which are mostly non-vegetarian, and count its population on a few plants. Similarly, they look for the harmful insects, mostly vegetarian feeding on the plant foliage
and fruits, and based on their observations make a note of the insect diversity that exists in the crop fields.
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