ALC members forego synthetic pesticides for biopesticides

Members of Agroecology Learning Circle (ALC) group from Sasatgre village in Garo Hills have, in the last month, been conducting few local natural experiments to fight pests and insects from destroying their crops.

Farmers are using burnt ash and matured pomelos (citrus fruit) to control the infestation on their produce. These methods, however, are not being used for the first time. They have been using them since the time of their forefathers. After the introduction of inorganic insecticides-pesticides and changing trends, the use of natural substitutes declined for a while.

They have been trying to protect their Cucurbits vegetables (pumpkin and chayote), which generally get infested by thrips, pickle worm, vine borer and bugs. The insects often damage the most vegetative parts of these plants resulting in a low yield. Burnt Ash is sprinkled all over farms to prevent the insects from feeding off their yield, acting as an insect repellent.

“We practice the technique almost every year and lesser insects are observed after the spray or application of ash on cucurbits (pumpkin and chayote),” said Jebil Marak, a custodian farmer from the area.

Simultaneously, farmers also use the pomelo pieces, rind and bark. It’s spread all over the fields or stood upright on a stick to wade off insects and pests from feeding off their paddy buds, kernels or flowers. Insects like leaf roller, planthopper, caterpillars and rice skipper cause the hollow and chaffy panicles of paddy. According to some farmers, this technique works and helps prevent the infestation off their main paddy crop (paddy) as the insects now instead feed on the pomelo parts.

“Control of insects using traditional knowledge is beneficial and helps in increasing the productivity of paddy as lesser insects infestation is observed after the ALC experiment,” Benitho Sangma, an ALC member, said.

Indigenous farmers are deciding to switch to natural substitutes because they can’t afford the chemical pesticides-insecticides often. They have also realised the irreversible harm these chemicals can have on the quality of their yield and people’s health

The ALC group has pledged to resume their conscious-minded indigenous practices, and are using natural and organic insecticides to battle the pests and insects. These experiments are being documented, raising awareness and increasing the benefits for others struggling with pest infestation problems. The use of natural insecticides is proving successful and workable according to the reports of the farmers.

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Meghana Injeti
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