Farmers depending on chemical spray for protecting their horticultural crops can now heave a sigh relief as a premier agricultural research institute has developed varieties of bio-pesticides which are sourced from natural resources such as animals, plants, bacteria and certain minerals. Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), an arm of Indian Council for Agricultural Research, in the last couple of years has granted more than 465 industrial licences for production of bio-pesticides.
According to MS Rao, principal scientist at IIHR, as indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides pose serious threat to environment and human health, bio-pesticides have overwhelming advantages of high selectivity to target pests and also safe for human consumption. “The use of chemicals has increased manifold as farmers are desperate to control nematode, a variety of harmful microbes in the soil, which attack the plant root and causes losses up to 70% in terms of yield,” Rao said.
The bio-pesticides developed by IIHR have helped not only increase plant growth and yields but also enhance the shelf-life of crops, he said.
The institute has been trying to promote the use of bio-pesticides amongst farmers mostly in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhar Pradesh and some of the northeastern states.
Scientists claim that the farmers who have used IIHR-developed bio-pesticides have reported reduction in the use of agro-chemicals in the range of 35% to 40% and yield increase of 24% to 32% in various horticultural crops.
MR Dinesh, director of IIHR, said that besides the development of bio-pesticides, the institute has released several vegetables hybrids commercially such as tomato hybrid Arka Ananya, which has resistant to leaf curl virus and bacterial wilt, chilli hybrids Arka Meghana which is tolerant to thrips and viruses, and high yielding chilli hybrid Arka Swetha.
“Besides, several other varieties such as bacterial wilt brinjal hybrid Arka Anand, high yielding onion hybrids Arka Lalima and Arka Kirthima are a few products which have made significant impact in production and higher economic gains,” Dinesh said.