Mr Kirit Meraj Patel has for the past 25 years been cultivating cotton in 10 acres of land, located in Dudapur village, Dhrangadhra block, Gujarat. His crop is susceptible to the attack of varied types of pests such as sucking and larval pests, beetles and mealy bug infestation. A remedial measure actively adopted by famers like him has been the use of pesticides like Acetamiprid,Monocrotophos, Buprofezin among others. Although objectives of crop protection from pests are met by the use of these chemicals, the social and environmental hazards associated with such processes are increasingly becoming evident. Increasing toxicity of pesticide on plants, emergence of pesticide resistant pests and pesticide residues in food, soil and water have emerged as some of the critical challenges affecting his cultivation of cotton.
With the intention of promoting Better Management Practices (BMP) in cotton, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) was adopted as one of the project approaches to reduce the application of pesticides in cotton cultivation. Based on training conducted in his village, he was mobilized to adopt mechanical and biological measures in controlling pests in cotton cultivation. Measures like use of Trichogramma as natural predators, inter cropping, phermone traps and neem seed kernel paste were introduced as biological control measures to reduce the application of pesticide. Hand picking and manual destruction of larvae were also introduced as measures to reduce pesticide application.
Based on his learning’s on IPM and implementation in 1 acre of his field, he has reduced the application of pesticides in his field by 50 percent. Immediate benefits were observed in terms of reduced costs and corresponding higher net profits and incomes. The long term benefits will help him produce cotton which is environmentally sustainable in the long run. Based on the success of the new approach in his field, he is actively engaged in propagating the adoption of a similar approach by others in his community.